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The Dignity of Every Human Being

New Brunswick Artists and Canadian Culture between the Great Depression and the Cold War

“The Dignity of Every Human Being” studies the vibrant New Brunswick artistic community which challenged “the tyranny of the Group of Seven” with socially-engaged realism in the 1930s and 40s.

Author Information


Kirk Niergarth is an assistant professor in the Department of Humanities at Mount Royal University.


Ronald J. Jack:

‘This is a book to relish. You will be informed and entertained.’

Debra Antoncic:

‘The author has assembled an impressive array of primary sources in a thoughtful analysis of an alternative vision of Canadian cultural production across these critical decades.’

Sean Cadigan:

‘This is an exceptional study of the intellectual currents running through the New Brunswick artistic community during the 1930s and 1940s.’

Peter Larocque, Curator of New Brunswick Cultural History and Art, New Brunswick Museum:

“New Brunswick art has often been seen as existing on the periphery of Canadian culture. In a convincing challenge to the prevailing narrative, Kirk Niergarth’s analysis of the national art scene in the 1930s and 1940s reveals that a group of New Brunswick artists was at the forefront of a movement that dared to consider a different approach to culture.

Niergarth’s persuasive account explains the complexities and reveals the scope of one particular regional art history within a broader Canadian art historical context. It also rectifies some of the misconceptions about art in eastern Canada and proves that the presence of this vibrant cultural community warrants more attention in a truly national story.”

Leslie Dawn, Department of Art, University of Lethbridge:

The Dignity of Every Human Being takes on the daunting task of mapping out the intersections of the overlapping artistic and political discourses that evolved in the Maritimes during the 1930s and Second World War years. Niergarth’s book is not only a detailed, in-depth, and nuanced investigation of how these connections played out in the Maritimes, but also a convincing revision to what has been established as the normalized relationship of periphery and centre. This study has the potential to redefine all work done in this area in the future.”

Audience: College/higher education;Professional and scholarly;