Eleven huge concrete triangles connected with a copper pipe are featured in a work created by Caroline Monnet specifically for the Insurgence/Resurgence exhibit at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. It is called Shield. The concrete shapes represent various generations of indigenous people and the copper pipe illustrates how those generations are held together. All the generations past, present and future connected to each other creates cultural strength and solidarity.
Caroline Monnet the artist who is responsible for Shield lives in Montreal. Her father is French and her mother is Algonquin so Caroline grew up both in France and Canada. Caroline is a filmaker and visual artist who studied in Ottawa and Spain. You can see other examples of her work on her website.
Although Caroline created Shield to represent the indigenous community I think it could represent any family. Various generations past, present and future are connected and together they form a protective shield of love and belonging that gives individual family members strength and a sense of identity.
Gone But Not Forgotten
This Looks Familiar
“I’ve seen that design before,” I said as I examined the beadwork on the clothing of these two mannequins in the current exhibit Insurgence/Resurgence at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.The fashions were created by Barry Ace an Anishinaabe artist from Ottawa. The beautiful beadwork on the dancers’ clothing…..
Beadwork on a bandolier bag by Barry Ace at the Art Gallery of Ontario
reminded me of beadwork I had seen on a trio of bandolier bags in the Art Gallery of Ontario in July. Sure enough when I looked back at the photos I’d taken at the AGO the beadwork on the bandolier bags was exactly the same as on the dancers’ clothing at the WAG. I discovered both had been created by Barry Ace.
According to the information provided by the AGO the designs on the dresses and bags replicate floral motifs from traditional Great Lakes area beadwork. Barry has made them with recycled electronic capacitors and resistors. The kinds of flowers which Barry has chosen to replicate are medicinal ones that store and release healing power. In much the same way capacitors and resistors store and release energy and power in electrical circuits. Interestingly on one of the bandolier bags on display at the AGO Barry had included an image from a silent film made on Manitoulin Island in 1925 of traditional dancers performing for government officials. Barry says it is ironic that while amendments to the Indian Act of 1876 banned all such dances the people were still allowed to perform them for high-ranking officials. As we look at the dancers in the Insurgence/Resurgence exhibit it is good to remember that such cultural practices like dances were banned by the Canadian government from 1884-1951. The woman’s dress has a skirt that is reminiscent of those worn by jingle dancers. Rows of metal cones on her skirt jingle as she dances. According to this article the jingle dress was created by an Ojibwa father whose daughter was very ill. He had a vision of her dancing in a jingle dress and being healed. He instructed his daughter how to make the dress and do the dance. She did and recovered. Later she taught other women how to make the dress and do the jingle dance.
What’s a Bandolier Bag?
Ojibwa in Paris
Did you know the woman in this painting was a real person? I didn’t. I saw the painting Christina’s World by Andrew Wyeth when I visited the Museum of Modern Art in New York. But I learned about the real woman in the painting this last week when I read the book A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline. Although the book is fictional it is based on many true facts about both Anna Christina Olson and artist Andrew Wyeth. Andrew spent nearly three decades using the upper story of Anna Christina’s house in Maine as a studio for painting. Christina and her brother Alvaro who maintained the family home were frequent subjects of his paintings. Christina suffered from a muscular degenerative disease and author Christina Baker Kline describes in heart wrenching detail how she coped with that in a stubborn and determined way. Christina’s life was marked by disappointment and bitterness and rejection, some of it of her own making.
This book is rather a sad read. Christina is bright and poetic and her teachers note her academic promise. All of that potential seems to go unfulfilled and unexplored. Despite this Christina Olson has been immortalized in Andrew Wyeth’s painting and so has the small piece of the world in rural Maine where she made her home.
What Makes a Best Seller?
Are All Artists Troubled?
A generous person just donated this beautiful book Portraits of the North by Gerald Kuehl to our church library. Gerald has done these absolutely amazing pencil portraits of an older generation of indigenous people. Each sketch which took him between sixty to a hundred hours to create looks so real you will think it is a photograph.
Opposite each portrait is a short story of the person’s life. You learn about their childhoods raised in the traditional lifestyle of the north, and then how that life was changed often by residential school experiences, a stay in a TB sanatorium or the development of hydro projects. Finally you learn of each person’s accomplishments and contributions and receive additional information about what life has brought their way.
There are well over a hundred portraits and stories in the book so to really appreciate them I’d recommend you only read one or two at a time so you can think about the stories and study the pictures closely.
You can go on Gerald’s website to see more examples of the wonderful portraits from his book. On his website I learned he is currently working on a collection of portraits of people from the Inuit community called Portraits of the Far North. I will look forward to that as well and think it will be a great resource for the Inuit Art tours I give at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.
Gerald’s book provides an intimate portrait of the effects colonization has had on indigenous men and women, but we are not left feeling sorry for them. As we study the lines in their faces and look deeply into their eyes we are moved. Here are people with a resilient spirit who can inspire us.
Are You Sure They Aren’t Photographs?
Inuit Fashion Show
Dave’s Vision Quest
Hopi at the Heard -Pottery
Countless white ovals catching the light as they dangle from the ceiling on threads make up the art installation cloudscape by Hannah Claus now on display in Ekhardt Hall at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. A Queens University Journal article says cloudscape was inspired by a Haudenosaunee creation story. The Haudenosaunee or ‘people of the long house’ include the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca. In the creation story Sky Woman comes down to earth from a world above. She then creates the land and everything that lives on it. Hannah Claus says she has tried to recreate the ethereal world where Sky Woman lived. What would it feel like to walk in a world like that? Hannah used an animated 3D computer program to help create cloudscape.
On the artouteast website Hannah says, “Clouds are basically masses of suspended drops of water in the sky, constantly shifting.” Her cloud art works express her interest in how all those microscopic drops come together to form different patterns and shapes. In an article on her website Hannah says clouds suggest creativity and community to her.
In her website biography Hannah compares her suspended art to wampum belts. Wampum means ‘river made by hand.’ On the Haudenosaunee website there is a detailed description of how wampum beads were made from clam shells and then strung together to form wampum belts. A wampum belt served as a sign that you held a certain office like chief or clan mother and was passed on to new officers. The beads on the belt represented different events in the history of the office and could be interpreted by specially trained warriors familiar with their nation’s past. Wampum beads can be traced back to the pre-colonial time of Hiawatha. Hiawatha’s wampum belt contained 6,574 beads. Hannah Claus, the creator of cloudscape studied at the Ontario College of Art and Design and received her masters at Concordia University. She is Mohawk from the Bay of Quinte on the north shore of Lake Ontario. Her work has been exhibited in Europe, South America and Central America. She lives and works in Montreal.
On Instagram Hannah is known as Cloudmaker. Very appropriate!
Our Heads in the Clouds
Creation of the World
Animal portraits by Les Brandt on display at the Warehouse Gallery
Last night’s First Friday in the Exchange District was hopping! The first Friday of every month art galleries in our neighbourhood open their doors till 9 or 10 at night and people can stroll from gallery to gallery visiting the many different exhibits on display. It was a beautiful night yesterday and that combined with the fact that many restaurants in the Exchange were participating in Winnipeg’s famous Burger Week brought people out in droves.
We went to the Mayberry Gallery to see the Bob Kebic show. His canvases remind me of Tom Thompson’s scenes but his oil paintings seem to be created on a kind of grid. The Mayberry always has some of Joe Fafard’s work on show and last night was no exception.
They Held Down a Map by Meghan Hildebrand
I also enjoyed seeing some unique work by Megan Hildebrand. My favorite piece at the Mayberry was Park at Night by Sean William Randall.
We stopped for a lattee at the Parlour Coffee Shop. Then we headed over to the opening of an art show featuring our friend Les Brandt at the Warehouse Gallery. Titled My Manitoba Home many of the pieces depicted scenes in and around Winnipeg. This one called My Winter Street was my favorite.
Margaret Sweatman read from her novel The Players.
We rounded off the evening at the Little Brown Jug Brewing Company where we listened to three poets and authors read or recite their work. After each reading a group of actors presented improvisational dramas based on the works they had just heard. After that we walked home on a perfect balmy late summer night in Winnipeg.
First Fridays in the Exchange happen every month. The next one is October 6.
It’s About to Crash
Living in an Art Gallery
First Friday Favourites
Filed under Art, Winnipeg
This whole controversy about the statues of famous people and whether they should be removed has me thinking. Should we stop honoring people when we erect statues and rather honor ideas? I’ve featured many statues on this blog of famous Canadians I actually thought were worthy of praise, but now I’m wondering if they all had a dark side? A little research makes it clear many of them did. For example……..
Here I am with Emily Murphy on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. She was instrumental in achieving personhood for Canadian women so they were no longer considered their husbands’ or fathers’ property. Yet according to the Toronto Globe and Mail Emily wrote articles attacking Chinese immigrants, American blacks, Jews and other Eastern Europeans who had chosen Canada as their home.
Here I am in Gambo Newfoundland with a statue of Joey Smallwood. He is credited with bringing Newfoundland into the modern age and into Confederation but there are many people who saw him as autocratic and interested mainly in self promotion. They criticize the way he often sided with bankers and industrialists rather than unions and laborers.
emptyful by Bill Pechet
Perhaps it is time to stop honoring people with statues and just honor ideas instead. For example the statue emptyful at the Winnipeg Millenium Library honors the beauty of the wide open spaces of the prairies. Who could quarrel with that?
This sculpture in Quebec City honors the idea of education. An outstretched hand sits on a pile of books. The hand has a feather. This shows how an education helps us learn to read and write and become literate people. Who could quarrel with that?
Perhaps its time to stop honoring people with sculptures and focus on honoring worthwhile ideas instead.
The Famous Five
Holding Joey Smallwood’s Hand
A Pen or a Wing?