For Brittney Bear Hat and Richelle Bear Hat, the term “Native Pride” is a strange phrase and a hard one to understand. As sisters growing up in Calgary, Alberta, they have felt the complexity of being Native, which has been significant for their own practices. The artists strive to know their culture, one that is deep with history and ever adapting. They have learned that being Native is about more than one viewpoint and that experience can be shared as storytellers through image and text, which in turn shapes their culture.
The artists wish to share the confidence instilled in them from family members, who have never doubted their ability to learn about the landscape they themselves so boldly navigate. Little Cree Women (Sisters, Secrets & Stories) presents gathered elements such as willow bark, charred wood, white flowers and mint leaves – letting them stand alone as quiet mementos, indicators of knowledge received.
Placing these specific materials on display is an act of honouring and showing their importance in our memory. With their mementos, text and a single image of home, the exhibition is focused on the stories we share and an openness to the stories that have yet to be shared. The Bear Hat sisters state, “There are always going to be lessons and experiences that separate us but in their own time, they will be passed on.”
Brittney Bear Hat & Richelle Bear Hat: Little Cree Women (Sisters, Secrets & Stories) is curated by Kristy Trinier.
Brittney Bear Hat is a graduate from the Alberta College of Art and Design in 2011, where she majored in painting with an interest in collage and drawing. Based in Calgary, her work focuses on identity and belonging. Half Blackfoot and half Cree, Bear Hat makes work about memory and how her personal history is what makes her Native. Her work involves the process of taking her own family photos or personal items and combining them with text, retelling stories and memories. With each piece, Bear Hat is trying to figure out what is hers and what she can call home.
Richelle Bear Hat is a Calgary based First Nations artist with both Blackfoot and Cree heritage. She graduated from the Alberta College of Art and Design with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Drawing in 2011. Her practice investigates ideas surrounding family relationships and the types of knowledge that are capable of being passed through them. These ideas are explored through the use of photography, transfers, video and paper based works. It is important to use materials and means of production that support the transference of memory and provide a platform for storytelling.
The RBC New Works Gallery features new artworks by Alberta artists. Initiated in 1998 and named the RBC New Works Gallery in 2008, this gallery space continues the Art Gallery of Alberta’s tradition of supporting Alberta artists. Presented with the support of the RBC Emerging Artists Project.