If many hands make light work then artist Rebecca Belmore figures she’ll need thousands of people to help her roll clay beads for a massive art installation the Canadian Museum for Human Rights has commissioned.
The first chance to roll some Red River gumbo in your hand is Saturday, at Belmore’s new storefront studio, set up in some space at Neechi Commons at 895 Main Street. The "Trace" studio space was equipped this morning with a working sink for the project.
As part of the artist’s concept, the public is being asked to pitch in, and help create thousands of hand-rolled clay "beads" during workshops over the coming months. The workshops are designed to include children, families and people from all walks of life in the city and in addition to the Neechi-based studio, other locations will be announced over the coming months. In February and March, for instance, Belmore’s workshops will be held at schools, community centres and public spaces around Winnipeg.
The finished product will be a mammoth ceramic blanket to hang in the aboriginal gallery at the Human Rights Museum. The installation is more than massive; it will cover an enormous 74 square metre wall in the Indigenous Perspectives galley once the museum opens this September. And it will be heavy: think Ford 150 pick-up truck heavy.
"Art is a powerful medium for relaying human rights messages and Belmore’s work is both powerful and important, not only within Canada but around the world," Museum CEO Stuart Murray told a press conference to launch the art project today at Neechi Commons.
Belmore, who moved to Winnipeg last year from Vancouver before she landed the commission is a recipient of art awards from around the world and is considered one of Canada’s preeminent artists. She’s Anishinabe from Northwestern Ontario,
In Canada she was the recipient of the 2013 Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts.
She’s calling the art installation "Trace."
"The use of clay, the earth itself imbues the artwork with a sense of timelessness," Belmore said in a statement to announce the project "The gesture of forming these beards is reminder of how precious and universal the bond is between humans and the earth. The human trace, the hands of generations past and those to come is an inherent part of this artwork. Everyone who was involved ‘owns’ a piece of it. Each bead is an individual’s contribution to this piece."
The ceramic blanket is curated by Lee-Ann Martin, one of Canada’s best known curators of aboriginal art, who’s through her work has contributed to places like the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Gatineau Quebec. She was among six curators the museum approached for the commission that Belmore landed.
The first workshop, at Neechi Commons on Main Street, runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.