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Patrick DeCoste: 13 Moons and a Canoe
Curated by Carla Garnet
Organized and circulated by the John B. Aird Gallery

March 23 – May 18, 2018
Opening Reception: Friday, March 23, 7:00 – 9:00 pm
In Conversation - Patrick DeCoste & Bonnie Devine: Thursday, April 26, 7:00 – 9:00 pm

Thames Art Gallery is pleased to present the exhibition Patrick DeCoste: 13 Moons and a Canoe, with an opening reception on Friday, March 23, from 7:00 – 9:00 pm. It will feature recent and new interdisciplinary work by DeCoste, a Métis artist who lives and works between Toronto and Georgian Bay. Organized and curated by the John B. Aird Gallery director Carla Garnet, this solo exhibition and the dialogue it fosters will be offered in the spirit of advancing ongoing conversations about Canadian identity, and how together we might take responsibility for our past, present, and future.

The installation pairs a canoe, retrofitted with a mast and sail, with a circular room of canvas walls – each painted with a large, colourful moon strung across poles hewn from forest trees. This room-within-a-room evokes a blend of environmental, cultural, and personal influences. It is, on the one hand, a monument to the Indigenous lunar calendar, and, on the other hand, a kind of family portrait; the twelve walls represent DeCoste and his eleven siblings. The modified canoe reveals the thirteenth moon on its sail, representing the baby who did not survive, the thirteenth child. The work conjures up the genesis of the Métis people in seventeenth-century Nova Scotia, where DeCoste’s family has its roots. Themes of journeys, maps, meetings, and cultural exchange resonate through paintings on polar bear, spirit bear, and other animal skins, along with portraits, drawings and other studio objects. Together, this work is not so much a critique of colonialism, as an attempt to grapple with the forces of history, culture, family, and identity.


The educational programming offered during the run of 13 Moons and a Canoe will include a conversation between senior Anishinaabe artist/educator Bonnie Devine and Patrick DeCoste on Thursday, April 26, from 7:00 – 9:00 pm. A major artist in her own right, Bonnie Devine is also the Founding Chair of OCAD University’s Indigenous Visual Culture program, and has provided a contextual essay on DeCoste’s work through his engagement with narratives of Indigenous identity.

Image Credits: (top) Smoking the Turtle, 2017, colour photograph. Courtesy of Carla Garnet.
(bottom) Patrick DeCoste, Tracing Ontario (detail), 2014, acrylic on polar bear skin, 7 x 6 feet. Collection of the Artist.

Patrick DeCoste is an award-winning artist who studied fine arts at Mount Allison University and OCAD University, where he received the President’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Graduate Studies in 2014. He has exhibited extensively across Canada and the U.S., has received grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, and the Toronto Arts Council, and was awarded a prestigious Chalmers Arts Fellowship in 2011.

13 Moons and a Canoe has been generously supported by a project grant from the Toronto Arts Council. Patrick DeCoste would also like to acknowledge the support of both the Ontario Arts Council's Aboriginal Arts program and the Toronto Arts Council's Indigenous Arts Projects program.

Thames Art Gallery exhibitions and programs are generously supported by the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, and the Municipality of Chatham-Kent.

Thames Art Gallery is located at 74 William Street North, Chatham, N7M 4L4 and is open Wednesday to Friday 1:00 – 7:00 pm and Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm. Visit the website for more.

Contact: Pamela Edmonds, Curator, or (226) 312-2023 x 4410






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