George Littlechild, Photo: Unidentified Child From The Ermineskin Indian Residential School #3, 2019. Mixed Media on Paper, 30”h x 22”w. Courtesy of the Artist. This work was supported by the British Columbia Arts Council.
Today is National Indigenous Peoples Day and June is National Indigenous History Month. Two great reasons to learn more about the rich and diverse cultures, voices, experiences and histories of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. It is also a time of sorrow and acknowledgement as there is much more to learn and do towards truth and reconciliation. Learn more here.
For Indigenous History Month and Indigenous Peoples Day, we're featuring Indigenous artists and artisans in our From the Studio series. Register here for June 23 when Art Rental and Sales artist Heather Shillinglaw discusses her artistic practice. You can also register for our discussion with Shop AGA craft artist Monica Rain on June 30 here.
#AGAlive is made possible with the support of the EPCOR Heart + Soul Fund and the Canada Council for the Arts.
In celebration of National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21, we’re highlighting recent acquisitions to the AGA collection by contemporary Indigenous artists. In 2017, your AGA was fortunate to receive a Canada Council for the Arts New Chapter grant, which funded the acquisition of 26 works by 13 contemporary Indigenous artists.
Terrance Houle, “GHOST DAYS: Indian Graves #3,” 2015, LightJet print. Art Gallery of Alberta Collection. Purchased with funds from the Canada Council for the Arts New Chapter Grant Program
Terrance Houle is an interdisciplinary media artist and a member of the Kainai Nation. He lives and works in Calgary, and travels to reserves and Indigenous communities throughout North America to participate in pow-wow dancing and ceremonies.
For the series GHOST DAYS: Indian Graves, Houle took photographs at the location of Indigenous graves in the Kananaskis foothills of Southern Alberta. This work is part of a larger, multi-disciplinary project, GHOST DAYS, that activates traces of historical and contemporary colonialism and indigeneity, confronting the audience with unresolved conflicts and contradictions in Canadian society.
Brenda Draney, “Late Summer,” 2017, oil on canvas. Art Gallery of Alberta Collection. Purchased with funds from the Canada Council for the Arts New Chapter Grant Program
Brenda Draney is Cree from Sawridge First Nation whose practice is based on personal experience, memory and narrative. Her compositions often make links between her current home of Edmonton and Slave Lake, Alberta where she was raised. Her paintings often feature large areas of untouched canvas, leaving space for interpretation of a story that is only partially revealed.
Tanya Harnett, “Lubicon Lake First Nation: Damaged Creek and Land Access,” 2011, inkjet print on rag paper, edition 1/3. Art Gallery of Alberta Collection. Purchased with funds from the Canada Council for the Arts New Chapter Grant Program
Tanya Harnett is a member of the Carry-the-Kettle First Nation in Saskatchewan and is an Associate Professor at the University of Alberta. She works in various media including photography, drawing, printmaking and fiber. Her practice engages in notions of history, identity, place, politics and Indigenous spirituality.
Harnett’s Scarred/Sacred Water series documents sites in First Nations communities in Northern Alberta, where residents have identified problems with the water. At each location, Harnett and community leaders poured red food colouring into the water to symbolically highlight the danger and threat to the community. The red waters evoke wounds, scars and sacrifice, making the contamination and damage visible.
Raymond Boisjoly, “Makeshift and Makeshift I,” 2010, inkjet print and staples on Astrobrite neon colour stock. Art Gallery of Alberta Collection. Purchased with funds from the Canada Council for the Arts New Chapter Grant Program. Photo: MN Hutchinson
Of Haida descent, Raymond Boisjoly is an artist based in Vancouver where he is an Assistant Professor at Emily Carr University of Art and Design. He uses screens, scanners, photocopiers and inkjet printers to capture technological processes together with subject matter centered on cultural propriety, humour and poetic-prophetic texts of mysterious origins.
Created during a residency at the Banff Centre, Makeshift and Makeshift I consists of 125 printed, coloured ink-jet papers that are stapled and overlaid to form a running text on the state of makeshift being. Boisjoly invites the viewer to make meaning of his tangled language on their own terms.
Lori Blondeau, “Pakwâci Wâpisk” (detail), 2017, photograph on aluminum. Art Gallery of Alberta Collection. Purchased with funds from the Canada Council for the Arts New Chapter Grant Program
Lori Blondeau is Cree/Saulteaux/Métis from Saskatchewan. She is an interdisciplinary artist working primarily in performance and photography and an Assistant Professor at the University of Manitoba. In the 4 larger than life size photographs that comprise Pakwâci Wâpisk, Blondeau stands fierce and defiant upon crumbling neo-classical architecture—an aesthetic associated with colonial power. Wrapped in red, the colour of power for Plains peoples, Blondeau embodies Indigenous survivance, thrivance and the power of her kin.
Dayna Danger, “Danger’s Mask,” 2016, leather; black, white and matte beads. Art Gallery of Alberta Collection, purchased with funds from the Canada Council for the Arts New Chapter Grant Program
Dayna Danger is a 2Spirit/Queer, Métis/Saulteaux/Polish visual artist. Using photography, sculpture, performance and video, Danger‘s practice questions the line between empowerment and objectification by claiming space with her larger than life scale work.
Danger’s beaded masks are each made for a specific individual and serve as both proclamation and protection over sexual autonomy. Danger’s work is rooted in the collective support of the BDSM, queer and two-spirit communities, ultimately opening space for destigmatized dialogue. BDSM (bondage, discipline; domination, submission; sadism, masochism) is about empowerment and the beading is associated with comfort and care.
Adrian Stimson, “Naked Napi and the Nest Egg 1 -10,” graphite, oil and 22 k gold leaf on wood. Art Gallery of Alberta Collection. Purchased with funds from the Canada Council for the Arts New Chapter Grant Program
Adrian Stimson is an interdisciplinary artist and member of the Siksika (Blackfoot) Nation. His paintings and installation works speak to genocide, loss, resilience and nostalgia, and his performance art practice looks at identity construction, specifically the hybridization of the Indian, the cowboy, the shaman and Two Spirit being.
In this work, Stimson represents Napi, a Blackfoot trickster figure, as a reclamation of Indigenous sexuality. In this series, Naked Napi prepares a nest to attract a mate, empowered in his nudity as he crafts a home with great care.
Skeena Reece, “Entitled,” 2017, acrylic on canvas. Art Gallery of Alberta Collection. Purchased with funds from the Canada Council for the Arts New Chapter Grant Program
Skeena Reece is a Tsimshian/Gitksan and Cree artist based on the West Coast of British Columbia. Her multidisciplinary practice includes performance art, spoken word, humor, “sacred clowning,” writing, singing, songwriting, video and visual art.
Entitled is a parody of the romanticized image of Indigenous peoples. For this work, Reece commissioned the west coast artist Collin Elder to paint a portrait of herself surrounded by a mash-up of clichéd signifiers of Indigeneity, including a feathered cape, a totem pole made by non-Haida carvers in the U.S and the 2010 Vancouver Olympics inukshuk logo. Reece, however, stands in stark contrast to other romantic images of Indigenous women as she invites the voyeur to gaze upon her self-aware smirk. The red velvet stanchions placed in front of the painting add an element of preciousness and allude to the fact that living Indigenous cultures are often relegated to the realm of the past through museum display.
Kablusiak, “North Mart,” 2018, digital inkjet print on hahnemuhle photo rag paper. Art Gallery of Alberta Collection. Purchased with funds from the Canada Council for the Arts New Chapter Grant Program.
Shortlisted for the 2019 Sobey Art Award, Kablusiak is an Inuvialuk artist and emerging curator based in Mohkinstis (Calgary) who uses art and humour as a coping mechanism to address cultural displacement. North Mart is part of a performative series Kablusiak made in their ancestral territory of Inuvik. The ghost serves as a foil for understanding their identity as an urban Inuk who is part of the growing Inuit diaspora.
Sheri Nault, “Untitled,” 2018, wood and seed beads. Art Gallery of Alberta Collection. Purchased with funds from the Canada Council for the Arts New Chapter Grant Program.
Sheri Nault is an artist of Métis and mixed European descent. Situated within personal and political contexts, their art practice and research are grounded in queer, feminist and Indigenous worldviews. Queerness abounds in Sheri Nault’s work, smashing the arbitrary binary of nature/culture by combining elements from each and questioning the division between the two. In Untitled, tree bark is adorned with seed beads in an act of care that connects nature and culture without privileging one over the other.
Daniel Cardinal McCartney
Daniel Cardinal McCartney, “Mother Myself: Disruption From That Family Core,” 2017, video, 5:48 minutes. Art Gallery of Alberta Collection. Purchased with funds from the Canada Council for the Arts New Chapter Grant Program.
Based in Calgary, Daniel Cardinal McCartney is a proud mix of Mikisew Cree, Suline Dene and Métis. As a Two Spirit, transmasculine person, Daniel sifts through questions of blood memory and intergenerational trauma. In the video Mother Myself: Disruption From That Family Core, the voice of the artist’s aunt, Shirley Cardinal, cuts in and out as she tells her nephew about residential school and the powerful pull of addiction. Disjointed scenes take place outside, day and night, as Cardinal McCartney navigates the cold weather in the nude and in an emergency blanket, highlighting the lack of resources that many Indigenous people with addiction issues face.
Amy Maleuf, “kayâs-ago” (detail), 2013–14, sculptured and tufted caribou hair on light panels. Art Gallery of Alberta Collection. Purchased with funds from the Canada Council for the Arts New Chapter Grant Program. Photo: Jordan Bennett
Amy Malbeuf is a Métis visual artist from Rich Lake, Alberta. Through mediums such as caribou hair tufting, beadwork, installation, performance and video, Malbeuf explores notions of identity, place, language and ecology. Kayâs-ago, meaning “a long time ago” in Cree slang, includes words and phrases in English, Nehiyawewin (Cree), Cree slang and Michif sculpted in tufted caribou hair. The texts that Malbeuf chose originate from Indigenous peoples that she knows personally or admires through their work as artists and academics. Each quote was chosen for its representation of a different Indigenous voice and for its persistence in the life of the artist.
Tamara Lee-Anne Cardinal
Tamara Lee-Anne Cardinal, “Akhop: A Blanket,” 2016, Handmade paper, medicines (tobacco, sage, sweetgrass, wihkes, fungus, hair), sinew. Art Gallery of Alberta Collection. Purchased with funds from the Canada Council for the Arts New Chapter Grant Program
Tamara Lee-Anne Cardinal is a multi-media artist, community activist, oskâpêwis, storyteller and life-long learner. Born and raised in Lloydminster, Saskatchewan, she now lives in Calgary, Alberta and traces her ancestral roots to Saddle Lake Cree Nation. Akhop: A Blanket embodies the teachings of the Seven-Pointed star, which were shared with Cardinal by her elders. The work is made of hand-made paper woven with ceremonial materials, such as hair and medicines, drawing together the teachings of her elders and traditional knowledge.