Springtime Story of a Little White Flower School for Girl Saints

Michele Karch-Ackerman

March 16 - April 13, 2005

Springtime Story of a Little White Flower: School for Girl Saints is much more than an installation art exhibition. It is a two year labour of love that began when Buckhorn, Ontario artist Michele Karch-Ackerman came back to North Bay on her way through to a residency in Winnipeg. She was amazed by the story of the Dionne Quints and by the joy that people felt being in the presence of the children.

For this exhibit at the W.K.P. Kennedy Gallery, Karch-Ackerman has sewn and knitted close to two hundred colourful outfits to represent the wardrobe of the quintuplets at their most popular. Between 1934 and 1943 about three million people visited "Quintland" near North Bay. The children were loved, adored and emulated. The amazingly time-consuming installation is in many ways an homage to the joy that these five sisters brought to the world. It is also a re-telling of the story, a reenactment of what the spectacle of the Dionne Quintuplets might have been like if love and joy were at the centre, rather than tourism and consumption.

For many years now Karch-Ackerman has been stoically, lovingly and beautifully creating art from "the domestic acts of love" - knitting, sewing, quilting and other art forms that have traditionally been relegated to the realm of "women's art" or craft, rather than fine arts. This exhibit is an honouring of the Dionne's humanity, not saintliness or image, but reality.

The installation includes: close to 100 dresses hanging in a large circle from the ceiling. Various small knitted and sewn clothing objects on the walls of the gallery, five actual dresses from the collection of the Dionne Quints Museum, a "shop" area selling objects blessed by little girls and a series of specially designed dolls.


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