For over forty years, Thaddeus Holownia has approached his art form with a gentle but persistent nudge to be mindful of our imprint on the land. He is known for his long-term projects, transformed over periods, cycles, and seasons, in which he researches the natural processes of life and the inevitability of change. A keen observer of the environment, his work expresses a deep concern for nature. His reflections are poetic and subtle, meant to call our attention to how far we have been transformed by ideas, compromises, and ethics. To expose these landscapes, he returns to a place over years, even decades, and creates a photographic register of the transformation.
In a society full of fast-paced pedestrians, flashing lights and blinking signs, Holownia has slowed us down. In his nod to the beauty of our land, his work invites you to sit down, ponder and reflect.
As a young artist, Holownia was part of Toronto’s burgeoning art scene. He left Toronto in 1977 for a teaching opportunity at Mount Allison. Enchanted by his surroundings, Holownia remained there and has never returned to living in an urban environment. His move to the Maritimes served to heighten his awareness of deeper moral and spiritual issues that are now the foundations of his ecologically conscious work.
Holownia’s work has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions, including three feature shows in 2017: Headlighting: Photographs by Thaddeus Holownia at The Spencer Museum of Art, The University of Kansas. Walden Revisited: 24 Tree Studies for Henry David Thoreau at The Heckscher Museum of Art, and, The Nature of Nature: The Photographs of Thaddeus Holownia 1976 –2016 at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. As well, his 1998 solo exhibition, Extended Vision: Photographs by Thaddeus Holownia 1978–1997, organized by the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, travelled across Canada and to the Centro de la Imagen in Mexico City.
Other exhibitions organized by public galleries include Anatomy of a Pipeline by the Owens Art Gallery and STATION Irving Architectural Landscapes by the Confederation Centre Art Gallery. Thaddeus Holownia photographs have been included in numerous group exhibitions, including The Landscape: Eight Canadian Photographers by the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Klienburg, Exposure at the Art Gallery of Ontario and Monet’s Legacy: Series. Order and Obsession at the Hamburger Kunsthalle.
Holownia’s photographic prints and bookworks are represented at The National Gallery of Canada, the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, the Canadian Centre of Architecture, the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, the Beaverbrook Art Gallery and the Confederation Centre for the Arts, as well as numerous corporate and private collections.
He has been the recipient of awards from the Canada Council for the Arts, New Brunswick Arts Board, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Crake Foundation and the Marjorie Young Bell Foundation.
In 2000 Holownia was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. He received a Fulbright Fellowship in 2001 and the Paul Paré Medal in 1998 and 2006 from Mount Allison University in recognition of excellence in teaching, creative activity, research and community service.
Born in 1949 in Bury St. Edmunds, England, Holownia studied communication and fine arts at the University of Windsor, graduating in 1972. Currently he is a professor and Dean of the Fine Arts Department at Mount Allison University