Art Gallery of Algoma (AGA)
The Faraway Neaby
Mary Anne Barkhouse, Christi Belcourt, Bonnie Devine and Shelley Niro
Curated by Rosalie Favell
Exhibition in AGA Main Gallery from March 1st to April 29th, 2012
Opening Reception Thursday, March 1st at 7 pm
Curator's and Artists' Talk Thursday, March 1st at 5 pm
The title of this exhibition is drawn from the title of a painting by Georgia O'Keeffe. For O'Keeffe, "The Faraway Nearby" expressed a deep attachment to the land of New Mexico as well as the longing and displacement she felt when she travelled away from it. In this group exhibition, four well-known and respected Aboriginal women artists – Shelley Niro, Mary Anne Barkhouse, Bonnie Devine and Christi Belcourt – each present a vision of the land from their cultural and personal perspective. Three of the artists, Barkhouse, Devine and Belcourt, now live away from their homeland. All, however, speak to the "nearby" of their heritage and traditions. Barkhouse, born in Vancouver and a member of the Nimpkish band, Kwakitul First Nation, focuses on the area surrounding her home and studio in Minden, north of Toronto. She sees the environment as a living space, and examines environmental concerns and Aboriginal culture through her animal imagery and sculptures. Bonnie Devine, Objibway, Serpent River First Nation, works in sculpture, installation and site-specific art. As she has stated, her artworks emphasize "the deeper narratives found in the geography and history of Canada's First Nations." By taking a physical approach to the language that describes the place it inhabits, Devine's installations engage the viewer in a physical and transcendental way. In her paintings, Métis artist Christi Belcourt recreates Métis beadwork patterns derived from nature. For her, the patterns emphasize symmetry, balance and harmony, the plants serving as metaphors of humanity. Her depictions of plants include their root structures as well, indicating the depth of life and the influence of heritage on individuals. Finally, Niro has not moved from her ancestral homeland in the Brantford area. The land surrounding the Grand River has been a constant source of inspiration and strength throughout her life, and is directly linked to her culture, family and traditions. Her paintings speak to mythical times in a faraway past that retain their power and significance in the present and daily lives of the Mohawk peoples. The connection between the humanity and nature is a core concern for Native peoples. The artists in The Faraway Nearby show a deep commitment to their immediate environment, and the relation of Aboriginal peoples to the natural world.
- Rosalie Favell
Rosalie Favell is a photo-based artist and curator, born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Drawing inspiration from her family history and Métis (Cree/English) heritage, she uses a variety of sources, from family albums to popular culture, to present a complex self-portrait of her experiences as a contemporary aboriginal woman. Her work has appeared in numerous solo and group exhibitions in Canada and the US as well as international venues. Her work has been featured in national and international publications. She has received numerous grants, and won prestigious awards. She has studied and taught extensively at the post-graduate level.
Join us for a special Curator's and Artists' Talk on Thursday, March 1st at 5 pm, followed by an Opening Reception at 7 pm.
The AGA gratefully acknowledges the support of the Ontario Arts Council (OAC) and the OAC Arts Investment Fund, as well as the Community Development Corporation of Sault Ste. Marie and Area.
For further information, contact:
Jasmina Jovanovic, Director
The Art Gallery of Algoma is open Tuesday to Saturday, 9 am to 6 pm.
[Image: Christi Belcourt, Honouring my Spirit Helpers – Baagitchigawag Manitou, 2010, Acrylic on canvas, 88" x 158"]