First Nations issues reflected in display
By: Tammy Rollie
| Posted: Wednesday, Jan 09, 2013 10:38 am
Two southern Alberta painters are addressing First Nations issues from an artistic point of view and their unique perceptions are on display in Okotoks.
Bruno Canadien, of Black Diamond, and Janice Tanton, of Canmore, are showcasing their portrayals of issues affecting the First Nations people on the walls of the Okotoks Art Gallery from Jan. 11 to Feb. 23.
Canadien’s exhibit “Inviolable”, which includes a series of collages, adornments, paintings and drawings, addresses issues surrounding First Nation/Tribal sovereignty, resource exploration and environmental concerns such the oil sands and the impact of the oil industry on the land and water.
“I have a huge concern with water quality and one of my paintings addresses that,” he said.
The Black Diamond resident of 13 years said he has been working on the theme of resistance through art for a number of years.
“In some cases it’s pretty obvious, in other cases it’s more ambiguous,” he said of his artistic portrayals. “My main purpose is for people to come away with First Nations resistance and pride and culture.”
This unique portrayal includes geometric designs adorned with fringe and ribbons on his paintings and collages as a reflection of the First Nations culture.
“It takes away from just being an image on the wall and it turns into an artifact,” he said.
Canadien, a member of the Deh Gah Got’ie Koe First Nation, studied at the Alberta College of Art in Calgary.
His work has been displayed in the Alberta Foundation for the Arts traveling exhibition “Narrative Quest”, at the Bluerock Gallery in Black Diamond, the New Gallery in Calgary and a piece will be featured in the 2013 Alberta Biennial of Contemporary Art at the Alberta Gallery of Art in Edmonton at the end of the month.
Canadien’s art is included in the collections of the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, the Glenbow Museum, the Red Deer Museum and the Indian Art Centre in Ottawa.
Like Canadien, Tanton’s exhibit also reflects the First Nations people.
Her exhibit “CAMP” is a collection of work based on a project she’s been working on for more than two years looking at temporary versus permanent living through the perspective of indigenous and non-indigenous people.
“The only thing that’s permanent is our relationships and our relationship to the land,” she said. “At some point in time we can all come to the conclusion that everything is very temporary.”
Among the oil paintings Tanton expects to capture attention are seven portraits she hopes will have people asking about the relationship they have to each other, land and commerce. Another is a self-portrait of Tanton in front of fallen cedars.
The gallery space will also be occupied with a teepee structure including lodge pole pines and a buffalo robe, she said.
Tanton said she hopes her work will have viewers questioning temporary and permanent space while considering their own culture and that of the First Nations people.
“It’s not an in-your-face narrative,” she said of her exhibit. “They are going to have to think about what they consider permanent and what they consider temporary in both their belongings in what they have and what their relationships are.”
Tanton said Okotoks is a fine example of such contemplation.
“There is so much growth going on and it’s a very holy place for the Blackfoot,” she said of Okotoks. “It’s interesting to look at those two things and to discuss that in the context of the exhibit.”
Both Canadien and Tanton will be available to discuss their exhibits at the opening reception in the Okotoks Art Gallery on Jan. 11 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.