Arts preview: Expect a continued Indigenous “renaissance” in visual art
- Angela Hill | January 21, 2019
Interest in Indigenous art is increasing. That’s the message from David Garneau, a professor of visual arts at the University of Regina.
During an emailed interview with Eagle Feather News, Garneau called 2018 “another strong year for the Indigenous renaissance in visual art.” He expects that trend to continue in 2019, with a particular focus on female Indigenous artists, curators and writers.
Some of the highlights for Garneau from 2018 included exhibitions by female artists at the Art Gallery of Ontario, and Vancouver Art Gallery. Closer to home, Garneau wrote that the year opened with the Sioux Project at Regina’s Mackenzie Art Gallery. Dana Claxton’s multi-projection installation about Sioux art and community in Saskatchewan.
He called At the Centre of the World, Jimmie Durham’s retrospective at the Remai Modern, challenging. The show was in Saskatoon from March 25 to Aug. 5, 2018. He didn’t see it at the Remai, rather viewing it in New York.
“I was alternately moved and confused by it. Durham maintains he is Indigenous, but no tribe claims him,” he said. “Depending on whether you think he is or is not markedly changes how you read many of the works.”
Last year saw a continued building of milestones around interest in Indigenous theatre, said Jennifer Dawn Bishop, artistic director of the Gordon Tootoosis Nīkānīwin Theatre based in Saskatoon.
She said that in the past there was less interest in Indigenous stories and Indigenous storytelling in Saskatchewan, but that is changing.
“It’s nice to see other companies are wanting to present and share our stories, in a good, respectful manner,” she said.
It’s not a massive step, but there continues to be improvements to collaboration. Bishop said more theatre organizations and individuals want to work with GTNT than ever before.
“Moving forward I think definitely we’ll see some more, for sure,” she said, adding it is nice to see the desire to share diverse voices.
This coming year promises to bring strong art visually and in theatre, Bishop said. The GTNT 2018-19 season wraps up in June after two more shows, including Circle of Voices running Mar. 7 to 14. Circle of Voices (COV) is a program that gives youth a chance to experience life in the theatre.
“It’s going to be a really nice, exciting year. It’s our new batch of COV and they’re working with a fantastic local artist Dakota Ray Hebert, who is writing the story and working with the students. We are really excited for these guys,” Bishop said.
Looking towards the 2019-20 season, the lineup announcement is expected in June.
“There is going to be a nice little variety of things. We always bring our A-game and I know they’re going to be bringing up some cool shows at the Persephone, I won’t give it away,” she said. “I’m still working on tying them together with a beautiful theme.”
Bishop wants to thank those who continue to support Indigenous theatre and looks to welcome new people in 2019.
“Just like everyone else we have our own stories; sit, laugh, cry with us. Share the good times with us.”
Visual exhibitions coming to Saskatchewan in 2019 include The Writing on the Wall: Works of Dr. Joane Cardinal-Schubert RCA running Feb. 1 to Mar. 29 at Waunskewin in Saskatoon. The exhibition will include pieces of the artist’s paintings, drawings, printmakings, collages and ceramics.
In Saskatchewan, Garneau said he is looking forward SakKijâjuk: Art and Craft from Nunatsiavut running from Feb. 14 to May 20 at Regina’s Mackenzie Art Gallery.
Further afield, Garneau said there are a couple of exhibitions that continues a trend of mixing Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists together. He recommends Soundings: An Exhibition in Five Parts at the art centre in Kingston, and Hexsa’am: to be Here Always, at the Belkin Art Gallery in Vancouver.
One of the most interesting trends in art that Garneau is watching into 2019 is how people are “taking traditional art practices – especially beading – and making cotemporary art.” It’s about the art and not function. He gives Saskatoon’s Ruth Cuthand as an example, how she uses beading to critique contaminated water.
“It is also exciting to see Indigenous people make waves in the fashion industry by introducing traditional styles and materials into contemporary haute couture,” he wrote.