Val Vint unveils new art at U of M
Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 09/11/2022 (203 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A new sculpture in the University of Manitoba’s Elizabeth Dafoe Library is creating a sense of belonging for some students who have been historically underrepresented in the education system.
Acclaimed local Métis artist Val Vint unveiled her metal bison sculpture on Oct. 26 to a crowd of friends, family, faculty and students. The piece, which is currently untitled, depicts a network of book-shaped steel frames that come together to form the outline of the animal.
The sculpture is the evolution of one of Vint’s sculptures that has lived at The Forks since 2020. That 12-foot steel sculpture — titled Education is the New Bison or Chi-kishkayhitamihk si te li neu Biizon — is designed out of 200 replicas of books and other written works by Indigenous authors.
“The books and films on this bison are predominantly Indigenous authors and artists, but there are also allies,” Vint said.
“We didn’t get here by ourselves, so everybody has to work together to change it back to the way it was.”
Vint said she feels as though society is changing for the better. Otherwise the bison wouldn’t be adorning that campus wall.
Vint’s niece, Raine Seivewright, gave a speech charged with emotion at the unveiling. Seivewright likened the art to a breath of fresh air. The U of M student joked that it puts a smile on her face when she visits the library to print copious amounts of statistical analysis documents.
“It’s just really good to see representation, to remind me why I’m doing this, to make it easier for future generations,” Seivewright said. “That’s exactly what the vision for this piece of art is — to make a safe space and to acknowledge that we all have a responsibility to move forward in a good way.”
Vint said the inspiration for the piece came from her ancestors. One morning she woke up and drew the draft for the sculpture, having put down her tobacco the night before.
“At The Forks, where the bison is, every time I go there, complete strangers talk to each other,” Vint said.
“My belief is if we sit in a circle together, we talk, we drum, we eat, we look in each other’s eyes, we are no longer looking at the other.”
Lisa O’Hara, vice-provost (libraries) and university librarian at the University of Manitoba, said it is her hope that Vint’s new piece will create a welcoming space for Indigenous students, while giving other students from other backgrounds an opportunity to connect with Indigenous cultures.
“We are honoured to strengthen our connection with Indigenous communities through the addition of this art,” O’Hara said at the unveiling ceremony.
Vint is known for her large-scale public art installations. The Winnipegosis-born artist has worked in the mediums of painting, fabric, ceramics, natural fibres, beading, among other forms.
In recent years, Vint has also collaborated with artists KC Adams and Jaimie Isaac on an installation titled Niimamaa, a word meaning “my mother” in Cree, Ojibwe and Métis cultures. The copper and steel sculpture, which can also be found at The Forks, honours motherhood, Mother Earth and new beginnings.
Vint is a U of M alumna. She graduated with a fine arts honours degree She is also a founding member of the Buffalo Gals drum group.
Vint’s new untitled piece can be found on the first floor of the Elizabeth Dafoe Library at the University of Manitoba’s Fort Garry campus.
Katlyn Streilein was a reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review.