Artist Talks at Concordia University
February 24, 2016
Three talented and driven Indigenous artists presented themselves and their work at Concordia University last week, on February 15, 18 and 19, as part of the process to decide on which of them will become Concordia’s Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Art Practice. The position will allow them to work at Concordia as a professor while also giving them more time to focus on research and creative work.
The talks all touched on the same area at their core; the idea of Indigenous storytelling. Each artist approached the subject from their own viewpoints, stemming from their interests and how they work. There seemed to be a core question being explored by each artist throughout their talk.
Maria Hupfield was the first to speak on her work. She is a member of Wasauksing First Nation, Ontario, currently based in Brooklyn, NY. She is a performance artist who also makes objects that can be used to tell stories and create conversations. Often her objects, including a bandolier bag, jingle boots, and a canoe, are made of grey industrial felt. Activating materials and creating a tactile experience where the art is used rather than only looked at seemed to be of strong interest to her.
Next up was Jackson 2Bears who came to present his work. He is a Kanien’kehaka (Mohawk) from Six Nations, currently based in Lethbridge, Alberta. His presentation seemed to ask the question: how are stories told? How do Indigenous peoples in particular hang on to and share their stories? He explained that there is a linear way of storytelling; from A to Z. Then there are some stories that require the listener and storyteller to be in a certain area in order for it to be told.
The third to present was Nadia Myre, Algonquin member of the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation and a locally based Montreal artist. The question at the core of her work seemed to be: who can she tell stories with? Her work stood out as being community-based as she mentioned her experiences working with various groups and individuals. Her artistic works are created in relation to each other as her new works tend to be influenced by the previous, like a backstitch where the line moves forward by going back.
All of these artists are exceptional and have a focus on their culture and giving back to communities. They all showed that there is a mental, emotional and physical connection working together in any piece of art. This also ties into the way that Indigenous people embody the stories they tell and in the ways they tell them. Traditionally stories are told through dance, singing and drumming (for example). The artists also work in various mediums in a similar fashion.
It will be a tough decision choosing who will stay at Concordia and one that I’m glad I don’t have to make!