New art exhibition at Edmonton YWCA pays homage to women in sports by telling the story of one of the greatest Canadian basketball teams of all time – the Edmonton Grads.
Art exhibition by Carolyn Campell, granddaughter of Mae Brown Webb, who played for the Grads from 1927 to 1931.
“It’s very, very special,” said Campbell. “I feel like this is telling a story in Edmonton that is too late to tell again.”
Founded in 1915, The Edmonton Grads are a women’s basketball team and one of the most successful in Canadian history.
The exhibition includes ten of Campell’s works along with artifacts from the team donated by the City of Edmonton and the families of other players and coaches.
Now CEO of Norquest College, Campbell studied art and previously taught painting at the University of Alberta. He said the show was not his first, but he felt strongly connected because the pieces were largely inspired by a photo album of his grandmother’s trip to Amsterdam for the 1928 Olympic games.
“I was really inspired by the pictures, because I thought, you know, they tell a great story about Edmonton Grads, which we don’t hear much about anymore – the winning team in the history of the sport,” he said.
Based on Canadian Sports Hall of Famethe team won 502 of the 522 games they played in their 25-year lifetime, including a 147-game winning streak in a row.
Basketball was not yet an Olympic sport, but the Graduates won all 27 games in exhibition tournaments held alongside the Olympics in Paris in 1924, Amsterdam in 1928, Los Angeles in 1932, and Berlin in 1936.
“It’s amazing how many people I talk to who don’t know about the Grads anymore, and I think that’s an important part of the Edmonton story that we have to tell,” Campbell said, adding he pitched the idea of hanging a few pieces. up to YWCA.
But YWCA CEO Katherine O’Neill had a better idea, and asked Campell if she wanted to do the show in its entirety.
“They are sporting legends and we really wanted to tell the story not only to Edmonton but to our entire nation about this amazing team,” O’Neill said.
Fewer than 40 women played for the Grads between 1915 and 1940, and while many recognize coach J. Percy Page by name, O’Neill says, few know the name of the woman who got the team into the record books.
So while the exhibition is a celebration of the history of the team and its players, O’Neill says it also speaks to the obstacles women faced in the sport then and continue to face today.
“When it comes to women in sports, there are still a lot of barriers to overcome,” said O’Neill. “[This is] to remind people that not only were in our past these were pioneers in the sport but there is still much work to be done and hopefully inspire the next generation, the next Edmonton Grads team.”
Two public viewings are planned for February 10 and March 4, but O’Neill said more could be added depending on demand.
With file from Nahreman Issa of CTV News Edmonton
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