'Can I Make Sure That I'm Not The Only One?' Artist Helps Museum Diversify Collection

September 16, 2020

When the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts bought Manuel Mathieu's painting of his late grandmother in 2018, he learned that it would be the first work the museum had ever owned by a Haitian-Canadian artist. "I automatically started thinking, 'OK, how can I make sure that I'm not the only one?,' " Mathieu recalls. Mathieu, 33, decided to donate the money from the sale of his painting back to the museum, to start a fund to acquire other pieces by under-represented artists. Soon donors were eager to give to the Marie-Solange Apollon Fund, named for Mathieu's grandmother. "There's something that happened that I wasn't expecting," Mathieu says. "The switch in the psyche of people that an artist can do something like that. ... I saw it in people's eyes, not in their words."