gathering at the water’s edge: visiting artists of st. michael’s printshop

Group exhibition curated by Emily Critch
Tina Dolter Gallery, Rotary Arts Centre, Corner Brook
April 11-May 1, 2024

Reviewed by Aley Waterman

This week, I had the pleasure of chatting with Emily Critch, curator for the St. Michael’s Printshop (SMP) 50th anniversary tripartite series of exhibitions that takes place over 2024 in Corner Brook, Port Union, and St. John’s, on the island of Ktaqmkuk (Newfoundland). The first of these three shows, gathering at the water’s edge, showcases an assemblage of work by twenty visiting artists from the printshop’s archive, while both forthcoming shows etched by wind and water and emerging along coastal margins will focus on the work of artists who call this island home. Since its founding in 1974, SMP has been integral to the support and celebration of printmaking and its rich history in the province; to date, the archive houses over 3000 prints dating from inception to current day.

Even though Emily was in the midst of travelling to install another show, the Mi’kmaw and settler curator and 2020-21 Don Wright Scholar offered warm familiarity and concise clarity during our call. Critch talked about how the titles for these exhibitions focus on geography and the space as a gathering place, with the theme of water running through each of the three shows. Critch said they were happy to get to work with the Rotary Arts Centre (RAC) for this exhibition at the Tina Dolter Gallery, where they exhibited their first solo show entitled remnants back in 2017. The Visual Arts Programs at Grenfell Campus, Memorial University have long-fostered artists from Newfoundland and Labrador and beyond in Corner Brook, and so the cross-provincial context and history of printmaking feels notably cohesive here, as many Don Wright Scholars have emerged through the program and the per capita of visual artists on the west coast of NL must be quite high, as far as I can tell as a resident (this is a wonderful thing, offering a unique vibrancy to the town). gathering at the water’s edge runs April 11 to May 1, while forthcoming exhibitions are planned for mid-August and November. 

gathering at the water’s edge, exhibition detail, photo by Aley Waterman


Walking through the gallery, it felt enlivening to see so many different artworks that have been carefully selected from such a vast collection, with print processes including lithography, linocut, intaglio, mezzotint, woodcut, and more. While the intention for the assemblage of prints was to “show diverse print media practices that were present in the shop, and reflect on each decade that St. Michael’s printshop has been supporting artists,” there also seemed to be a recurring theme that celebrated the landscape and community within the province, if at times from a distance. Objects, mountains, water, and people are often in these prints, rendered with a consideration of perspective: landscapes obscured by the muntins of windows or in the near dark. As I felt in the tone of Critch’s presence over the phone, care and consideration are central here, especially in pursuit of reframing historical narratives that have long been misrepresented through colonialist rhetoric.

The last time I went to the RAC, before seeing gathering at the water’s edge, was on April 11th, which was my thirty-third birthday. I went there in the morning with my mom for a special announcement: that the RAC is in the process of garnering funding so that they can incorporate more professional workshop opportunities for local artists. Since inception almost a decade ago, the RAC has been an important hub for showcasing artistic works on the west coast, so consider dropping in or checking out their website if you’re in or passing through Corner Brook, as they have lots of cool, meaningful programming through the spring and summer. 

Aley Waterman is a writer of fiction, poetry, and music from and living in Newfoundland. Her first novel Mudflowers was published by Dundurn in fall of 2023. She has had work appear in Border Crossings, Brooklyn Review, Bad Nudes Magazine, the Trampoline Hall Podcast, Riddle Fence, and elsewhere.