KANATA 150? | January 12 - February 18 2017
The City of Ottawa and Government of Canada are celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Dominion of Canada with events, promotions, and other ambitious goals to increase Canadian pride and patriotism. These festivities are promoting both the history and future of the nation state confederated in 1867. Canada is a country built from settler colonialism, which leaves the question of how the Indigenous peoples of this land are meant to participate in these celebrations. KANATA 150? (January 12 - February 18), a nod to the origin of the country’s name, presents seven emerging Indigenous artists reflecting on the nature of “Canada 150”.
Alexandre Aimée (Métis) explores her female Indigenous ancestry with a mixed media work, inspired by her family folklore and her grandmother’s sacrifices - reflective of the colonial history of women being utilized to populate a growing country. The objects of Oo Aqpik (Inuit) merge the reverence of the iconic crown (calling to mind the foundation of today’s Canada) with the practicality and function of ear muffs, connecting the common appropriation of Inuit and Indigenous creations into benign objects. Christian Chapman (Anishinabe) paints as a means of respect to the past, to keep his ancestor’s stories alive to future generations. Chapman’s painting, created for this exhibition, incorporates woodland florals and photographs of insects, mainly bees, as a warning signal of the declining population of bees and possible planetary catastrophe. The Modified Landscapes of Shelby Lisk (Haudenosaunee) see Canadian legislature regarding the Indigenous superimposed onto traditional landscapes of Canada - highlighting the history of the claimed Canadian landscape, while her video work Aksótha examines the history of the artist’s grandmother while reflecting on her own identity. Mique Michelle (Anishinabe) brings her vibrant woodland-style graffiti artwork directly to the walls of the gallery exploring the theme of cultural appropriation, as well as photographs exposing the devastated and overlooked state of education for Indigenous youth in Ontario. Barry Pottle (Inuit) and his series of photographs highlight the danger of climate change as it continues to alter the land and water across the country. Pottle believes that all citizens must work together to solve this crisis - and in so doing can find meaningful connection. Krystle Retieffe (Mi’kmaq) uses her powerful and colourful paintings to share her culture and spirituality. Her perspective as a Keeper of the Drum determines how she views her role as an artist in 2017: “a shiner of light in the darkness.”
KANATA 150? acts as a venue for the variety of perspectives, reactions and works from seven emerging artists, exhibited at a time where the identity of a young country is being both praised and defined.
Text by Rose Ekins, Curator