The University of Alberta Art Collection — University of Alberta Museums

Portrait and Perception (The Eugenics Dimension)
  • Object Name: painting
  • Artist: Supina III, Nick (Canadian)
  • Date Made: 2005
  • Related People: Muir, Leilani (subject of)
  • Accession No.: 2008.15.1
  • Description: "Leilani Muir stands in the foreground casting a large shadow on the administration building at the Michener Centre, also known as the Provincial Training School (PTS). At her feet are the disembodied heads of John Brownlee, Emily Murphy, William Aberhart and Ernest Manning who were all active proponents of the Alberta Eugenic Program. As premier, John Brownlee signed the first Alberta Sexual Sterilization Act of Alberta in 1928. Emily Murphy, though she was purportedly an emancipator of Canadian women, served as a catalyst in causing the repression of female children through this program. William Aberhart and Ernest Manning, both premiers with pseudo-Christian ideologies, strengthened the Eugenics Program throughout their political careers. A demonic figure embraces Aberhart and Manning, alluding to their blatant hypocrisy. The ghostly car represents how Leilani, like scores of other children, were discarded at the institute by their own parents or guardians. As “trainees,” they were brought before the Eugenics Board and recommended for sexual sterilization at this site. The cloud hovering over the building symbolizes the judgement that hangs over the whole program, reminding us to be aware of its skewed philosophies." (Nick Supina III, 2015)
  • Subject Terms: arm/arms raised, building - non-specific, car, girl, nurse, shadow, standing

Additional Information

Artist Biography

Related People

Muir, Leilani (Canadian, 1944-2016)
Leilani Muir was sterilized as part of a eugenics program while institutionalized at the Provincial Training School for Mental Defectives in Red Deer, Alberta. In 1996, she filed and won the first lawsuit against the Alberta government for wrongful sterilization under the Sexual Sterilization Act of Alberta.

University of Alberta Museums University of Alberta