A visual exploration of family, lost history and the one of the winningest sports team of all time.

YWCA Edmonton is proud to host GRADS: The Exhibition – a showcase that honours art, sports and equity in lost women’s history. This art show by renowned local artist Carolyn Campbell that explores the legacy of the Edmonton Grads, and serves as a reminder of the importance of supporting equity and gender inclusivity in the sports world. 


The Grads are one of the greatest sports teams of all time, with an impressive record of 502 wins and only 20 losses over their 25 years as a team.

About The Artist

Carolyn Campbell

Carolyn Campbell is the President and CEO of NorQuest College. She is a former Deputy City Manager, Deputy Minister of Culture and Tourism, and Associate Dean of Executive Education at the University of Alberta. She is working part time on a Doctoral degree in board governance of major art museums and the repatriation of cultural property, at the University of Oxford. Carolyn is a practicing visual artist with a studio at Harcourt House Artist Run Centre. She has exhibited across Alberta, is represented in the Alberta Foundation for the Arts collection, and was a finalist for the 2009 Kingston Prize competition for Canadian portraits.

Artist Statement

Carolyn Campbell’s pictures are about a figure shouldering a past that is only partly their own. The paintings bring to life, and make a record of physical evidence, and the responsibility and legacy we have to the ownership of our real and culturally acquired history. The drawing of the faces is highly concentrated, while the bodies sometimes slip slightly out of focus, or come into hyper focus through the representation of an invented shield. Some of the new paintings comprise only the shield. Carolyn’s paintings involve memories of special places, unknown futures, safety and the sharing and framing of ideas. The fields represent change and the passage of time, in a wholistic, controlled, imagined space, invented to protect and preserve. For the body of work in GRADS: The Exhibition, the paintings concern women and families, and focus on the grandmothers of the artist, one of whom was an Edmonton Grad. She was tiny, and played defence, travelling to Amsterdam for the qualifying Olympics, documenting her journey through photos, some of which have become source material for this show. My maternal grandmother was an artist, and studied under Fred Varley, the Group of Seven portrait painter. Their influence is felt through generations, shaping family, defining community, influencing place, and illuminating imagination.

Carolyn Campbell

Edmonton Grads

The Edmonton Grads became a household name after 25 years of exciting performances that drew crowds of up to 6,500 fans.

From 1915 through 1940, the Edmonton Grads won 502 games and lost only 20, dominating Canadian team sports. They won 147 straight games, 19 national basketball titles, and won 17 Underwood North American championships in a row. The Grads won all 27 games in exhibition tournaments held alongside the Olympic Games in Paris in 1924, Amsterdam in 1928, Los Angeles in 1932, and Berlin in 1936. When their practice facilities were taken over for military usage during World War II, the Grads were permanently awarded the Underwood Trophy, a testament to their competitive excellence.

The Edmonton Grads travelled often but never got paid. Many were teachers, bookkeepers, and stenographers – thus playing on the team in their free time required considerable dedication. They won seven of nine games against men’s teams after abandoning stringent ‘girl’s rules’. James Naismith, the inventor of basketball, named the Grads the “finest basketball team” ever to play the game. Their record remains unrivalled in Canadian sports history.

The Grads have left an inspiring legacy of female athletes and their groundbreaking achievements in sports. Their stories continue to be remembered and celebrated today. GRADS: The Exhibition is a powerful celebration of this unique and important story, and a reminder of the importance of honouring and preserving our lost histories.


How to see the Exhibit

Viewing by appointment only until March 31, 2023

YWCA Edmonton will be hosting two public viewing times for this exhibit; please register below.

GRADS: The Exhibition is a non-commercial art exhibit; artwork is not available for purchase. Exhibit is open for public viewing by appointment only until March 31, 2023. For more information, please contact communications@ywcaedm.org