Cree's art blog
Every year near the end of January Definitely Superior Art Gallery in Thunder Bay puts on a wearable art show. The show is called Derelicte - A Fashion Odyssey, and key visual artists in the region are invited to create wearable art pieces for the event. I was one of the lucky artists chosen.
So much fun! My piece this year is called Raven of Copper. The wings are made with copper pipe and wood. The feathers are made of old cedar lath pieces that are painted black on one side and gilded with copper on the other. Nearly four hundred feathers altogether! You can see more pictures of Raven of Copper on my Facebook page.
This is the description that accompanied the performance...
Raven is an Old Soul and keeper of knowledge. A trickster who can transform and imitate anything, Raven lives among us, observes us, gathers our secrets, and pokes fun at us. Raven is protector of our Mother and all her natural elements. Most importantly, Raven is responsible for guarding and hiding our copper until Others stop dishonouring her to find it. As Raven walks among us, concealed in an iridescent cloak of blackness, look closely for the transformation between bird and human. And if you’re watching - or even just lucky - Raven might tease you with a flash of copper.
The music used for the performance is called Sacred Power Chanting Cree (Steven Stanley Mix) by the group Indigenous Resistance. You can listen to it here.
This is good news for Indigenous artists. To see Sotheby’s successfully venture into Aboriginal art from Australia is exciting news for Indigenous artists around the world - many of whom struggle to sell their art and be recognized for their efforts.
For the artists involved who are still alive, like Michael Nelson Tjakamarra, interest from major players like Sotheby’s will escalate the value and demand for their new works and the works they still own.
The success of this auction may spur other art auction houses to sell art from other Indigenous groups around the world, helping those artists along. Very exciting.
So pleased and excited... One of my art pieces - Wiigwaas Naanookaasi - has been selected from almost 300 artist submissions to be part of the TWAC Art Space at the CNE Juried Art Show this August in Toronto. The jury selected 20 works. The art will also be displayed at Artworld Fine Art Gallery from October 3-12.
Leanna Marshall is a dear friend and extremely talented in many ways - she will be exhibiting her contemporary regalia work at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery, starting July 7. I can't wait to see it. Check it out if you can! The exhibit is called "The Teaching is in the Making": Re(Store)ied Memories of Anishinabeg,” featuring Anishinabekwe artists Celeste Pedri-Spade and Leanna Marshall. Opening Ceremony is July 7, at 7:30 pm.
I'm currently working on a large birch bark face. It's on a 36" x 48" panel, with acrylic paint, paper, molding paste, drywall compound, and glued-on beads. Almost done. Can't wait to show you.
Something terrible occurred here in Thunder Bay from 2000 to 2011. Seven First Nations students died - five of those youth were found drowned in rivers in the area. The youth were here from remote communities to attend school at Dennis Franklin Cromarty First Nations High School. Like so many other young First Nations students, these kids were here in town on their own to attend school because their communities don’t have the resources to provide the schooling.
What is more grave is that very little was done to investigate further why seven students from remote communities died over an 11-year period. An inquest finally started in 2015 and the jury is expected in June to deliver recommendations for keeping First Nations students safe.
One of the students who died, Reggie Bushie, 15, started a mural at the high school in 2007 - the year he was found drowned in the McIntyre River. That mural stayed unfinished in the halls of the school for nine years, until this year when students and their art teacher helped finish it. The art, shown above, is wonderfully done and great care was taken to preserve some of Reggie’s work.
You can read more about this story here.
This is sad for me... Accomplished and celebrated Native American artist Rick Bartow passed away last month of congestive heart failure. He was only 69. Rick is one of my favourite artists and is a strong influence on my work. You can see this in a piece I did that is in the style of his paintings. It’s called Bear Teaching.
Rick lived and worked in Newport, Oregon, and his richly-styled works are in many U.S. museums. He stayed faithful to his Native roots and community - something that is important to me....more so as I get older.
What really stood out for me was something that was said about him in a 2002 profile by Bob Hicks of the Oregon ArtsWatch. He wrote that Rick Bartow is an artist who knows joy and sorrow. When the two resolve, they find a state of grace.
That has significance for me.