Art Thou the Accuser of Thy Brethren or Art Thou the Inspiration of Their Heart: Richard Boulet




Richard Boulet


Wayne Baerwaldt

Opening reception Friday, February 23, 7PM-midnight
7PM-8PM Artist talk with Richard Boulet + Wayne Baerwaldt
8PM-midnight Performances by Bucko and Osita. Catering by BanhMiYes

Art Thou the Accuser of Thy Brethren or Art Thou the Inspiration of Their Heart casts a spotlight on the extraordinary studio practice of Edmonton-based artist Richard Boulet and introduces selected collaborations with Marilyn Olson, Boulet’s immediate family members and anonymous craft makers. Boulet’s visually arresting fine craft textile works feature a characteristic mix of figurative and abstract elements including text in various forms from traditional cross-stitching to assemblage techniques and filaments of colour embedded in quilting. The 40 works in the exhibition are also an informal testament to Boulet’s lived experience with mental challenges, which have led him to pay close attention to building a base of knowledge that remains open to addressing a wide range of issues around social justice, well being, the omnipresence of poetic inspiration and the need for psychic and physical space to accommodate an emerging queer identity. The characteristic markers of his investigation are complex and generally identified with autobiographical sources and the formal consequences of an evolving definition and making of art.

Our present moment of public acceptance and sharing of mental challenges and paths to wellness stories is unprecedented. The timely exhibition and accompanying publication offer new perspectives on intersectional mental illness/health aesthetics. Boulet introduces fine craft textile art as part of an inclusive wellness program for community building while extending the discourse around fine craft materiality via his exploration of more diverse elements including medical terminology (as either oblique/direct references to his lived experience with mental challenges), design strategies, performative sound and concrete poetry. 

Boulet’s journey is one of ground-breaking acceptance in mainstream visual art amidst enormous mental health challenges and societal prejudice around mental illness.


Artist and Curator Talk
Friday, February 23 at 7PM at Club SAW
Free admission

Richard Boulet’s visit is a unique opportunity to bring public attention to alternative approaches to fine craft making, blending narratives informed by lived experience with mental illness with various craft techniques (from applique to cross-stitch) and Boulet’s explorations in concrete poetry, drawing, sculpture and installation. Boulet will be in conversation with exhibition curator Wayne Baerwaldt. The informal discussion will focus on Boulet’s lived experience with mental challenges and creative paths to wellness with a particular emphasis on the active exchange of fine craft and design techniques.

By providing an art world context for schizophrenia and its display of dysfunction in the public mind, Boulet aims to suggest there is as much consideration to be paid to recovery and the text-and-materially-based art as to pre-diagnosis hardships. 

A Q&A with the audience will follow the talk. 

If I May Digress: Richard Boulet and Collaborators

Signed copies of the hardcover publication If I May Digress: Richard Boulet and Collaborators will be available for purchase along with a limited number of Boulet’s original drawings on the publication dust covers as support surface. 

The book offers perspectives on intersectional mental illness/health aesthetics and the growing influence of fine crafts in contemporary and modern art history. Remarkable outcomes and stylistic shifts in Boulet’s works are examined by contributors to the publication including Dick Averns, Wayne Baerwaldt, Noam Gonick and Eric Wood, Michelle Hardy and Steven Harris. Their contributions provide an opportunity to acknowledge and contextualize Boulet’s work within the ever-growing presence of neuro-diverse practices and otherwise hidden histories developing just outside mainstream contemporary art history.

Although Boulet’s practice may be centered around a discourse linking creativity and mental illness, it is much more than that. It is simultaneously a call for barrier-free inclusivity in the mainstream art world.


Richard Boulet has two undergraduate degrees completed back-to-back from the University of Manitoba. The first is a Bachelor of Environmental Studies in Architecture followed by a BFA. Boulet later received his MFA in Drawing and Intermedia at the University of Alberta, and for a limited period of time, he found a home for participatory programming, volunteering and gainful employment at the CMHA–Edmonton.

“Art to me is experimenting with how far my imagination can take me. I find that the process relaxes me and seeing my imagination come to life under my fingers amazes me. Creating is self-fulfilling. When I see something transformed to become a piece of art, I feel astonished that I made it. Art gives me the initiative to pass on my knowledge for future generations.”
— Richard Boulet

Wayne Baerwaldt is an independent visual arts curator and producer based in western Canada. His best-known curatorial projects trace performative elements in artmaking with an emphasis on unstable, disputed identities and the language of their construction and presentation in public and private spaces. Recent projects and publications include If I May Digress: Richard Boulet and Collaborators and Meeting for Teas: On the Road to Decolonization. He is the guest editor for Issue #62 of PUBLIC, The Gender-Diverse Lens, and conducts ongoing research in social justice issues and questions of representation as a Michele Sereda Artist in Residence for Socially-engaged Practice at the University of Regina. He is a board member of the Hnatyshyn Foundation, Ottawa, and on the Advisory Committee of participant, inc., in New York City.

Great appreciation is extended to Eduardo Aquino, the Canada Council for the Arts, SKARTS, Alberta Foundation for the Arts, Flanagan Foundation, the University of Regina Michele Serada Artist in Residence for Socially-engaged Practice, dc3 Gallery and David Candler, Type A Print and Shurniak Art Gallery for their support of the various stages of the project. A special thank you to Bill Staubi, Dallas Loken, Paula Dozois, Natasha Pashak, Barr Gilmore, Alberta Views magazine and the Emily Harvey Foundation.