Local artist receiving second honourary degree

Amanda Jess
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LITTLE HARBOUR – Monday, Dawn MacNutt will walk on stage of convocation at Mount Allison University for the second time.

Dawn MacNutt recently built and installed a Little Free Library with her husband Merle Pratt as part of a worldwide organization that encourages literacy by supplying easy access to free books. The grand ‘little’ opening is next weekend in Little Harbour.

Her alma mater is presenting her with an honourary doctorate.

“I was rewarded by just going there,” she said in an interview last week about why it’s special for her.

Mount Saint Vincent University gave her the same honour in 2005.

“I figured that was a real fluke,” she said about receiving her first honorary degree.

She minored in art when she attended Mount Allison in 1957, taking a class in weaving.

It was a great time to be there, MacNutt said, surrounded by artists like Alex Colville.

Even though she didn’t pursue arts at the time, it was never far from her mind.

Instead, she continued her education and obtained a masters at Dalhousie University in social work, going on to work for 30 years in the field.

While she cared about her career, she had to return to art and her hometown.

“The passion was there. The fire was there.”

She kept in touch with Mount Allison University, and her professors encouraged her to keep creating, but she was humble about her ability to make a living at it, she said.

MacNutt had been interested in art from her childhood, selling Christmas cards in New Glasgow to raise money for lessons.

She has a long list of shows and commissions, including a piece for the IWK Children’s Hospital centennial, and international exhibitions.

In more recent years, she’s done sculptures and weavings for the town of Sackville, a Scott Jones fundraiser, and the Celtic Circle.

She’s showing in the Margaret George Gallery currently as part of the “Be The Change” show for Rehtaeh Parsons.

As well as professionals, the show features several young artists, an age group that should be encouraged to create, MacNutt said.

“Teaching visual art to children is so important,” she said, adding that she’s happy to see the effort the town of New Glasgow is putting in stimulate creativity in the area, naming the NSCAD-New Glasgow residency and Eventide Art Hub as two crucial facets of the community.

Her most recent project helps get people reading. MacNutt and her husband, Merle Pratt, built a Little Free Library, as part of a worldwide movement that allows members of the community to easily take or leave a book at anytime.

They just installed it in the parking lot at the Little Harbour Presbyterian Church, and are set for the grand “little” opening next Saturday at 2 p.m., weather pending.

“We’re very happy that the church community allowed us to put it there,” she said, adding that it’s a concept that interested her.

MacNutt is one of three honourary degree recipients this year. She’ll be joined by former Prime Minister Paul Martin and retired general John de Chastelain.



On Twitter: @NGNewsAmanda

Organizations: Mount Saint Vincent University, Dalhousie University, Mount Allison University Little Free Library Little Harbour Presbyterian Church

Geographic location: New Glasgow, Sackville

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