By Al Beeber – Lethbridge Herald on February 10, 2022.
LETHBRIDGE HERALD[email protected]
The first of three exhibitions of Indigenous art, curated by or co-curated with Indigenous experts, opened at the Galt Museum.
Breathe (2nd Wave), a traveling exhibition of masks made in traditional ways by Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists reflecting resilience in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, opened on January 29 and will run through April 29.
Co-created by Métis artists Nathalie Bertin and Lisa Shepherd, the exhibition is a grassroots initiative that explores artists’ experiences while navigating the changing conditions of COVID-19.
It includes 44 masks encompassing traditional beadwork and using a range of materials, including take-out menus.
CEO and Executive Director Darrin Martens said Wednesday that “these exhibits are all Indigenous-led with Indigenous content and we are absolutely thrilled and believe this is the first time we’ve been able to do this in as an institution. And it helps us fulfill our commitment and our promise to be a very responsible institution and to work with indigenous communities to help us achieve our strategic plan.
Acting Curator Tyler Stewart said, “I’m really excited about the great assemblage of exhibits we opened here recently. »
Breathe, he said, “really focuses on the resilience and determination that is required of all of us to continually navigate through this global pandemic that we find ourselves in, but using artwork and artistic practice as a way to navigate the difficulties, but also to use that power of creative expression to get through the tough times. There is an incredible amount of work in this exhibition which is a national traveling exhibition, but we also have a local component of the exhibition,” he said.
“I think what’s really exciting about this exhibit is not only the very intricate and detailed beadwork that you see in a lot of these exhibits, but the exhibit really gives space to Indigenous and non-Indigenous voices. to sort of talk about the themes of resilience and determination.”
Kalli Eagle Speaker, who is the Indigenous Engagement Assistant at Galt, said she was part of a jury for Breathe which discussed the suitability of integrating local elements into the traveling part of the exhibition. .
The jury discussed via Zoom the artists’ relevance and stories “and with respect to the Breathe exhibit, they didn’t want an umbrella term of Indigenous and Métis to be separated – they just wanted it to be seen as one lens,” she said.
A member of the jury thought that a differentiation was necessary for the Blackfoot designs because the Galt is on Blackfoot territory without making it appear as two separate avenues.
Eagle Speaker also participated in an upcoming bead exhibition called Iiksisawaato’p Kainaiwa O’tookátákssin: Maana’pii ki niita’piitsitapii saatstakssin | We visit with Kainaiwa Beadwork: A New Way and the Real Way of Design which she curated with Hali Heavy Shield and Carol Williams. This exhibition runs from February 12 to June 15.
This exhibit will feature photographs of traditional Kainai beading from the Glenbow Museum archives and contemporary Kainai beading stories.
Eagle Speaker’s role in this project “was primarily research. I did all the interviews with all the local Blackfoot pearlers,” she told media at Galt.
All interviews were conducted via Zoom in the midst of the pandemic.
“Transcribing everything was just a little different from the traditional research process. So it started to get a little easier from where we could start choosing the photos we wanted in the exhibit,” she recalls.
As with the Blackfoot beadwork exhibit, “everything is very intentional about where the photos were, what beadwork they chose to display, and how it all came together.
“One of our main goals with this exhibit was, in particular to have it in a museum, there’s a lot of stories that the Blackfoot people and the Indigenous peoples as a whole, it’s very perceived as ‘at the ‘time’, as if it didn’t exist anymore, these ways of knowing and creating are no longer used – which is very far from the truth.
“And I think that’s what we wanted to show, because in the title it says modern and traditional methods of beadwork and I think respecting the way it was done, it was also a really interesting way to think about how it’s changed now down to the beads they use, how the craftsmanship, the needles, the threads, how they’ve all moved with us,” Eagle Speaker said.
The third exhibition, Nitsitapiisksakoo: Nitsitapii Landscapes, runs from February 18 to June 12. Organized by Mike Bruised Head, Rebecca Many Gray Horses and Bobbie Fox, it examines the traditional landscapes of the Niitsitapi through archival images from the Galt collection.
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