Tanya Harnett, Drift Pile First Nation: Drift Pile River from Swan Hills, 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
We believe in the power of art to transform people’s understanding of the world. On this World Day of Social Justice (February 20, 2021), we would like to highlight a critically important body of work by Edmonton-based artist Tanya Harnett, whose practice engages with 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. It is powerful work such as Harnett’s that has the remarkable ability to educate its viewers and incite action that leads to greater social change.
Tanya Harnett is a member of the Carry-the-Kettle First Nation in Saskatchewan and works in various media including photography, drawing, printmaking and fiber.