Exterior view of Co-op Wellness Commons with MHC crest

News & Events

MHC remembers Nelson Yuen through art retrospective

A memorial exhibition for a Medicine Hat College (MHC) art & design instructor will be held in the Cultural Centre’s One-on-One Gallery this month. Open to the public from Jan 8-24, the show will display works created by Nelson Yuen, showing the breadth of his 50+ year career.

“Curating this exhibition has been a bittersweet experience for me, says Dean Smale, MHC art & design instructor and curator. “Nelson was a good friend, my very first friend in Medicine Hat. Re-living my friendship with Nelson through his work has been sad, but also surprising, enlightening, and enjoyable. The breadth of work is immense, complex, eccentric, and culturally diverse.”

Described as a trailblazer in the fine arts community, Yuen earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of British Columbia (1971) and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Regina (1975). After teaching at Okanagan College, he joined MHC in 1986 and taught in the visual communications program for 28 years, helping students find their own path through art and developing strong friendships with colleagues. He retired from MHC in 2014.

Smale says that while Yuen has passed away, he remains present through his work. He invites those who knew Yuen to remember his one-of-a-kind personality, which is evident in his art. 

“Family, friends, colleagues, current students, alumni, and the local community are all welcome. This exhibition will remind us of the wonderful, warm, and eccentric Tantric Prairie Guru, Nelson. It will enliven your senses, spark your imagination, and leave you with a smile,” says Smale. “Nelson’s warm, bright spirit, and unique character was infectious and that same wonderful uniqueness is at play in this exhibition.

Yuen leaves behind a legacy of art which highlights the joyful spirit of life, explored through a variety of mediums, including pencil crayon, watercolour, lithography, acrylic and oil painting, wood carving and assemblage. 

“I believe that this retrospective is a wonderful testament to his versatility, uniqueness, originality and creativity. He shall be sadly and greatly missed by all and certainly not soon forgotten,” says retired art & design instructor, Poul S. Nielsen, in the forward for the show.  

Works created by Yuen from the 1970’s to 2023 will be available for viewing during gallery hours, Monday to Friday between 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. A public reception will also be held on Jan. 12 at 7:00 p.m.