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Concordians make significant contributions to the Biennial Contemporary Native Arts Exhibition – Concordia University News



While countless cultural events have been cancelled due to COVID-19 crisis, the Contemporary Native Art Biennial (La Biennale d’art contemporain autochtone, or BACA) launched in April, on schedule — though visits are happening a little differently.

On April 23, BACA hosted an online, virtual opening of the multi-gallery exhibition, much of which is viewable until June 21.

Every two years, the biennial is overseen by a different curatorial team that explores a new theme. The 2020 edition is hosting works by roughly 50 artists engaging with the topic of honouring kinship.

Kahwatsiretátie: Teionkwariwaienna Tekariwaiennawahkòntie, Honouring Kinship

Curator David Garneau describes the way in which the term “Indian” was wielded by colonizers in order to reduce Indigenous North American populations to a homogenous group.

At the same time, this year’s theme invites reflection on how colonial history has served as an impetus for many of these diverse Indigenous communities to come together.

Many Concordia faculty, students and alumni have contributed to the biennial. Co-curator Faye Mullen works at the Aboriginal Student Resource Centre, and Rudi Aker, also a co-curator, is pursuing a BFA at the university.

In reflecting on the theme of kinship, they emphasize the “spiderweb-like” structures and relations through which persons and entities are formed and from which they grow.

The term “Aboriginal” — in some ways intended to refer to all non-colonial peoples — should not be thought to stand for a homogeneous identity, they suggest. The term signifies an alliance and mutual engagement between multiple nations.

Working together, diverse and disparate peoples can stand in solidarity against colonialism and the colonial values that continue to prevail in dominant Western culture.

Concordia contributions

Some of the many artist contributions from Concordia include those of Nadia Myre (MFA 02), assistant professor of studio arts and Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Arts Practice, and Jason Edward Lewis, professor of design and computation arts, and Concordia University Research Chair in Computational Media and the Indigenous Future Imaginary.

Also contributing are graduates Skawennati (BFA 92, GrDip 96), Scott Benesiinaabandan and Hannah Claus (MFA 04), as well as Concordia Humanities PhD candidate Diane Roberts.

Myre discusses the Kìnawind Lab she has been building within Concordia’s Department of Studio Arts. Complementing the theme of the biennial, the lab explores identities and relations. “Identities are fed through meetings and connections,” she says.

The exploration of interconnections was both a theme of the biennial and an important practical element of its organization and development. In order to bring others into the discussion, curators invited participating artists to reach out to people in their own networks who would also want to contribute.

“When David came to Montreal, I invited students and anyone involved with Kìnawind Lab to show him their work,” Myre says.

“We didn’t focus so much on the relative and hierarchical status of artists. We didn’t privilege faculty over students, for example. In general, we try to give everyone the opportunity to pursue what’s important to them, which they can then relate back to the work of others at the lab.”

This meeting helped further the network of artists who eventually contributed to the biennial. “We try especially to think about how we can be together — as Indigenous and non-Indigenous people,” Myre says.

“The lab’s name is derived from a hybridized spelling of the Anishinaabemowin personal pronoun Giinawind. A first-person inclusive plural, KÌɅA8IɅ (in Algonquin), refers to the notion of an inclusive ‘us’; a grouping of oneself with one’s own group or community as well as with those outside of it, and so the work we do questions what our connection is to each other in this moment,” she explains.

“In my own work, I try to bring complicated histories to light to see how they resonate in the present.”

The galleries hosting the 2020
Contemporary Indigenous Art Biennial will open for in-person visits in the coming weeks if and when physical-distancing measures are adjusted.

Find out more about Concordia’s Faculty of Fine Arts.

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Abstract portrait awarded people's choice in virtual High School Juried Art Show – Prince Albert Daily Herald



Ethan Waldner received the People’s Choice Award in the ninth annual Mann Art Gallery High School Juried Art Show for “Geometric Portrait.” (Mann Art Gallery/Submitted)

The Mann Art Gallery has announced Ethan Waldner’s “Geometric Portrait” as the People’s Choice Award winner for this year’s High School Juried Art Show.

Waldner graduated from Carlton Comprehensive Public High School this year and is a longtime student at Christina Thoen’s art school.

The coloured pencil piece, said Waldner, was born out of boredom when schools closed in mid-March as a COVID-19 preventative measure.

“I drew it and I was like ‘I’m going to try something new’ I guess, and then decided to start with a couple of colours and just see how it was going to go,” he said. His other artworks, mainly portraits, are more realistic.

Waldner liked the way it looked, so he kept adding colour.

The harsh lines between blue, yellow, green, pink and purple on the man’s face contrast with the neutral tones in the rest of the piece.

“It was kind of shocking at first,” he said about winning the People’s Choice Award, which is sponsored by the Kyla Artist Group.

“It inspired me to keep creating art.”

Waldner will continue as an artist on the side while pursuing business and then potentially law. He credits Thoen for kickstarting his art career back when he was nine years old.

“She just always kept pushing me to accept your pieces, I guess. They’re all not going to be perfect and so she just kept pushing me, try to work on different things. She also had little things at the beginning of class, like exercises,” he said.

“She taught us a whole bunch of different techniques and things to better your art.”

Waldner had a second piece displayed in the High School Juried Art Show, a portrait of musician B.B. King.

Mann Art Gallery Acting Educator Danielle Castle curated the ninth annual show, which was forced to take a virtual format due to the pandemic. Her final selection featured 76 artworks from 64 different students.

“Your portrait is so abstract and fun and colourful to look at,” said Castle to Waldner in the video announcement.

“You definitely deserved this.”

Castle said putting the show together has taught her about the importance of connection during an unfamiliar time.

After its temporary closure due to COVID-19, the Mann Art Gallery is reopening on July 14. Artists and staff are currently installing an exhibition by Cecile Miller, Rich Miller and Lynn Salo about migration and movement.


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Art project to take flight this year in J.B. Tudhope Memorial Park – Barrie 360 – Barrie 360



The City of Orillia is looking to commission a local artist to create a complimentary piece of public art for its new butterfly garden in J.B. Tudhope Memorial Park. The habitat garden is being designed for pollinating insects and will located at the park entrance along Atherley Road.

“City staff and the Art in a Public Places Committee are excited to add more art to Orillia’s landscape,” said Jacqueline Soczka, Manager of Culture. “We want to create, through this project, a distinctive focal point or showpiece that captures the essence of the garden.”

The call is open to local artists residing in Orillia and or bordering municipalities of Ramara, Severn, Rama and Oro-Medonte only.

The City expects the artwork to be dynamic and building on the site’s landscaping and design, using the information provided by the City of Orillia, along with the artist’s experience and expertise. The work must be:

  • constructed of durable material;
  • safe and suitable for all ages;
  • maintenance-free;
  • resistant to the elements;
  • original to the artist(s).

The City is encouraging interactive components, though this is not required provided they meet the other criteria and the conditions set out in he City of Orillia’s Art in Public Places Policy. Artwork options include a singular piece or multiple pieces clustered in a pod.

A $5,000 budget has been allocated to the project. This is inclusive of all materials, labour, supplies, and installation costs associated with the artist’s work.

The deadline to submit a proposal is July 17, 2020 at 4 p.m.

Further details on the call can be found at

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UK's lockdown-hit arts venues to get $2B rescue package – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News



LONDON — The British government has announced more than 1.5 billion pounds (almost $2 billion) to help the country’s renowned arts and cultural institutions recover from the coronavirus pandemic, after some theatres and music venues warned that without support they might never open again.

The 1.57 billion pound ($1.96 billion) package for museums, galleries, theatres, movie theatres, heritage sites and music venues includes almost 900 million pounds in grants and more than 200 million pounds in loans.

Details of how the money will be distributed haven’t been released, but leaders of arts organizations breathed a sigh of relief at the announcement.

“When we heard last night, we slept for the first time since March,” Kwame Kwei-Armah, artistic director of London’s Young Vic theatre, said Monday. “It is a real vindication that we have been listened to and that the government understand that we were dying on our knees and also that we are an important part of our country’s recovery.”

Tamara Roja, artistic director of the English National Ballet, said “this package gives our sector a fighting chance of survival.”

Monday’s announcement comes after intense lobbying of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative government by arts leaders, who say British culture is a 100-billion-pound a year industry, essential to the economy and to the nation’s global image.

Some U.K. arts institutions are beginning to open their doors after more than three months of lockdown, starting with the National Gallery in London, which reopens Wednesday. But social distancing rules and an almost total absence of tourists mean they face a big financial hit.

Theaters and concert venues haven’t been told when they can admit audiences, and several major venues, including Nuffield Southampton Theatres in southern England, have already announced they will close permanently or lay off hundreds of staff.

The rescue package is intended to help venues survive until April. But theatres warn they may go bust if they can’t get paying audiences through the doors until then. Some question why people are allowed to sit in tightly packed rows on planes but not in theatres.

Composer and impresario Andrew Lloyd-Webber tweeted: “Great to see the Government support the arts, but what we really need is for the UK’s theatres to open safely as soon as practically possible.”

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said the support package would help safeguard Britain’s status as a “creative industries superpower.” But he said theatres wouldn’t be able to return to normal until the need for social distancing was over — and it’s too soon to say when that will be.

“I want to ensure it can happen,” he told the BBC. “I just want to be a bit realistic about the challenges of getting us back to that point any time soon.”

Across Europe, museums and art galleries have been the first cultural venues to reopen, although with much-reduced capacity. The Louvre in Paris opened its doors on Monday for the first time in four months, with face masks and advance reservations required.

In London, the National Gallery has introduced timed tickets, one-way routes, visor-wearing staff and hand-sanitizer stations in order to open its doors after 111 days — the gallery’s first shutdown since World War II. Even in wartime the building remained open for concerts and events, though the collection of works by artists including Caravaggio, Monet, Van Gogh and Turner was sent out of London to keep it safe.

“The gallery was open and it was there for the London public as the bombs rained down on the city,” gallery director Gabriele Finaldi said. “So we felt a responsibility that, as in the past the National Gallery had been there for the public, we wanted to be there when the opportunity arose to reopen.

“It will be very interesting to see how the public responds. We’re keen that they start coming, but I think the most important thing is that they feel safe, in the first instance. I think then confidence will build up, and then hopefully tourism will return to the city.”

But, he added, “it’s going to be very tough.”

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