The connection between land and culture is at the forefront of May the Land Remember You as You Walk Upon Its Surface, a new exhibit at the C2 Centre for Craft, which has its opening reception tonight as a part of First Fridays in the Exchange.
May the Land Remember You as You Walk Upon Its Surface
C2 Centre for Craft, 329 Cumberland Ave., Unit 1
To Saturday, Feb. 29
Opening reception at First Fridays, Feb. 7, 5-9 p.m.
More info at c2centreforcraft.ca
Curated by Franchesca Hebert-Spence, the exhibit features the work of four Indigenous artists — Katherine Boyer, Dayna Danger, Camille Georgeson-Usher and assinajaq — that express the connection contemporary beadwork has with the land, and with separated and displaced communities across history and time.
Hebert-Spence was inspired to curate the exhibit by a gift she received after completing her bachelor of fine arts degree in ceramics at Ishkabatens Waasa Gaa Inaabateg, Brandon University’s Visual and Aboriginal Arts program: a beaded business-card holder, crafted by a school group called the Beading Babes.
"Inside is advice from each lady, all of which I still carry in my bag," says Hebert-Spence. "On Cathy Mattes’ card it read ‘may the land remember you as you walk upon its surface,’ which relates back to a conversation we had a long time ago when I was asked, ‘Where is home?’"
"I wanted to explore that idea with these artists because, when I look at their work within the arts landscape, it explores those questions."
Hebert-Spence began curating at the Daly House Museum in Brandon — an 1882 house containing four floors of artifacts and archival materials that represent the city’s early history — during her undergraduate studies.
"I didn’t realize what a rare opportunity that was," she says, "especially when I didn’t have formal training. Curator Eileen Trott and the board were incredibly supportive and willing to take risks."
Using her additional training in Indigenous epistemologies as a foundation, she cites community-oriented projects based in process as what she is most drawn to as a curator.
"I work with the understanding that trust and flexibility is of utmost importance between artists, curators and institutions," she says.
"I don’t necessarily curate in a way that focuses on finished objects, but in a way that generates dialogue between artists."
All four artists involved in May the Land Remember You attended Beading Symposium: Manidoominensagemin, held by the Textile Museum of Canada in Toronto last January, and were selected by Hebert-Spence to exhibit their work in Winnipeg more than a year and a half ago.
Katherine Boyer is the creator of the pieces Meeting Grans Over Tea and Bangs and Carry the Horizon With You. She learned beading from Judy Anderson, while working at the First Nations University of Canada in Regina. Her work also incorporates carpentry, which she learned from her father, Gary Boyer.
"The exhibit demonstrates the range of contemporary beadwork practices, and audiences can expect to be engaged by the cross-disciplinary approaches that each of the artists have curated in the show within the practices," says Boyer.
While each artist in the exhibition creates in unique ways — Georgeson-Usher and assinajaq also have a history of collaboration — they all have one thing in common: beading is at the centre of their artistic practice.
"Beads are meant for protection," Hebert-Spence says of the importance of beadwork. "It’s a labour-intensive process all about love. It builds community.
"It’s an activity that creates networks and negates some of the things that people internalize. If you didn’t grow up in community or with the part of your family that carries culture, or your family stopped participating in culture to protect themselves, all of these things make people feel inauthentic or like they don’t belong.
"This is one of the ways people can re-engage."
An opening reception for May the Land Remember You as You Walk Upon Its Surface will take place tonight from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. The exhibition runs until Saturday, Feb. 29, at the C2 Centre for Craft, 329 Cumberland Ave., Unit 1.