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Indigenous art installation brightens city roadway – Turtle Island News

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By Ryan Clarke

 Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The City of Lethbridge has unveiled new art pieces along Great Bear Boulevard that reflect Blackfoot culture.

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The 600 metre stretch of road on the city’s westside will host nine of  Marjie Crop Eared Wolf’s iinii (buffalo) sculptures, and a landscape  of plants designed by her and other Kainai Elders.

Fire Hall No. 5  will showcase a mural by Hali Heavy Shield titled Iiyikitapiiyit, Be  Brave, Fearless, along with a fire truck that is wrapped by Rudy Black  Plume depicting Niitsitapii artwork.

With the Indigenous artwork  proudly on display it will open more learning about the Blackfoot  culture and the symbolism each art installation shows.

“There is  something truly special, something more significant, that emerges when  we examine and celebrate these pieces as a collection,” said Jillian  Bracken, community arts and culture manager for the City. “An ecosystem  of representation, truth and respect that now lives in this new area of  our community.”

Language elements highlight some of the artwork.

“Indigenous placemaking is so important. I think it’s art really  healing and it brings people together,” said Heavy Shield. “I chose to  incorporate Blackfoot language into my art, because as an intergenerational Residential School survivor, I’m trying to learn my  language and incorporating it in my art is important to help teach  others too.”

“The piece I did is not an individual piece onto itself, but a project  where I reached out to my community to try to include us and represent  us as a whole,” said Crop Eared Wolf. “It is important for us as  Blackfoot artists to continue to hold each other up and celebrate each  other.”

Firefighters at the fire hall were happy to show their support to the awareness these pieces represent.

“Today is a huge honour for us, especially to meet the artists that put  this wonderful work on our fire hall, as well as the fire apparatus,”  said Gerrit Sinke, deputy chief of Lethbridge Fire.

“It is so  significant to us, because so much of it speaks about the history of  this great country and the wonderful people that come before us. Also,  the amount of thought that they put into the artwork and to blend it  together with the work that we do as firefighter paramedics. It speaks  to the bravery and timelessness of this profession.”

The  installations create an ecosystem of Blackfoot cultural representation  with the goal of reflecting the diversity in Lethbridge’s community,  while demonstrating how public space can be a forum for expression and  inclusion.

“It is a learning opportunity and an education  opportunity for the city,” said Crop Eared Wolf. “These are avenues for education, to learn more about ourselves, our language, our culture, and  our ties to this space.”

 Ryan Clarke is a  Local Journalism Initiative Reporter who works out of the

LETHBRIDGE HERALD.  The LJI program is federally funded. Turtle Island News does not receive LJI funding.

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Ukrainian avant-garde art finds refuge from war in Madrid – Reuters

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MADRID, Nov 29 (Reuters) – Ukrainian art has found a refuge in Madrid where a retrospective on the country’s avant-garde in the early 20th century is showing works little known to the general public while offering them a safe haven away from the bombs.

On Tuesday, the Spanish capital’s Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum inaugurated the exhibit “In the Eye of the Storm. Modernism in Ukraine, 1900-1930s”. It showcases a collection of about 70 artworks in various formats representing different trends, from figurative art to futurism and constructivism.

Aside from paying tribute to a little-known period in the history of Ukrainian art, the exhibition takes on particular relevance amid Russia’s ongoing invasion of the country.

“We wanted to do something in terms of showing Ukrainian art, but also taking Ukrainian art out of Ukraine and bringing it to Europe and to safety,” Katia Denysova, one of the exhibit’s three curators, told Reuters.

Denysova, who described her journey out of Ukraine as a “rollercoaster”, said that transporting the works through a country at war into the European Union ran into numerous challenges.

They included the temporary closure of borders in response to the impact of a stray missile on neighbouring Polish soil, which sparked fears of an escalation two weeks ago.

When the curators saw the works had made it to Spain safe and sound, they were “beyond delighted”, Denysova added.

She now hopes that Ukrainian avant-garde art will tell the public a story of creation and resistance.

“This is an integral part of our heritage, of our culture in Ukraine. This is what Ukrainians are fighting for right now.”

Reporting by Darío Fernández, Silvio Castellanos and Michael Gore; Editing by David Latona and Mark Heinrich

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Submissions invited for provincial art collection – Government of New Brunswick

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FREDERICTON (GNB) – The Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture is inviting artists to submit work to be considered for inclusion in the New Brunswick art collection.

Established in 1968, the permanent collection celebrates the province’s excellence in the contemporary visual arts.

“Our many talented artists share the New Brunswick story,” said Tourism, Heritage and Culture Minister Tammy Scott-Wallace. “The collection exists to honour the best parts of our past, support current streams of creativity and look towards our shared future with compassion, confidence and enthusiasm.”

The collection, now known as CollectionArtNB, acquires new artwork every two years. Artists can submit their proposals to either the general category or the Indigenous category. Guidelines and forms will be available on the CollectionArtNB website.

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The department will accept submissions until Friday, Jan. 6 at 4:30 p.m.

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Art is always close to the heart for Brianna LaPlante

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Brianna LaPlante often draws upon life experiences while pursuing her passion for art.

Consider the merger of culture and creativity that led to her designing the reimagined basketball courts — known as The Yard — at Regent Park, only five blocks from where she grew up.

“And my best friend, Savannah, lived five blocks away in the other direction,” LaPlante notes. “That was kind of our central meeting point when it came to hanging out.

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“We have so many little memories from spending time there. I didn’t realize that it meant so much to me. Doing the mural gave me closure, in a sense, because it related so much to my teenage-hood or my young-woman-hood. Now I’m just going into my adulthood.”

LaPlante, 23, is in her fourth year of working toward a fine arts degree at the First Nations University of Canada.

Previously, she attended Thom Collegiate and played basketball for the high school’s iconic team, the Trojans.

Although she no longer plays the sport at a competitive level, the link to basketball is in some ways stronger than ever.

That became clear in September, when The Yard was unveiled. It is part of the Buckets & Borders initiative, which is designed to improve communities and bring people together.

The scope of the program goes beyond simply restoring long-standing outdoor basketball courts. There is an accompanying emphasis on aesthetics, which leads to the involvement and celebration of artists such as LaPlante.

Brianna LaPlante is shown at The Yard — part of the Buckets & Borders initiative, which is designed to improve communities and bring people together.
Brianna LaPlante is shown at The Yard — part of the Buckets & Borders initiative, which is designed to improve communities and bring people together. Photo by KAYLE NEIS /Regina Leader-Post

Buckets & Borders put out a call for artists earlier this year, with the submission deadline being July 22. LaPlante’s application quickly impressed members of the adjudication committee.

“Brianna quickly became a part of the Buckets & Borders team,” co-founder Justin Lee says. “Her passion for both art and basketball made her the perfect fit to be a part of the project as the chosen artist.

“Brianna’s artistic ability coupled with her love of basketball and understanding of the game enabled her to create not only a beautiful art piece, but also a piece that is fluid with how the game is played.

“We’re happy and grateful to have Brii as part of the Buckets & Borders team and proud of the incredible work she completed. The Yard would not be the same without Brianna LaPlante.

“Honestly, at the end of the day, we were just lucky to have someone who has such a deep love for art, basketball and her community.”

LaPlante is equally proud of the association.

“When it came to applying to Buckets & Borders and their court restoration for my home community, I really liked the idea that people could quite literally experience my art through the curves and the lines that I chose,” she says.

“The reason I positioned those certain circles and flowers where they are is because it’s actually practice. It’s so ingrained in me.

“In high school, a lot of people don’t make very big cuts. They kind of just go straight to the basket, because that’s the goal. But these lines are positioned in a way that if you were to follow them, they would be your great deep cuts or great round cuts.

“I was really considering how it would be to interact with the lines within the artwork.”

Brianna LaPlante practises shooting hoops on basketball courts that she designed at Regent Park.
Brianna LaPlante practises shooting hoops on basketball courts that she designed at Regent Park. Photo by KAYLE NEIS /Regina Leader-Post

This specific artwork is different from the perspective that it is not displayed on a wall or in a gallery. It is a gigantic canvas that can be walked upon.

“I just wish I was 10 feet tall,” LaPlante says with a laugh, “so I could have a better view.”

So much of what she does reflects the viewpoint she has acquired to this point in her young life, with an emphasis on her Anishinaable/Nehihaw/Michif heritage.

Reflection on that journey takes her back to when she was a young girl, drawing a picture of her aunt’s dog.

“I remember asking my aunt for an eraser,” LaPlante says. “Auntie Jena said, ‘OK, here you go,’ and then I said, ‘When I grow up, I’m going to fix all my mistakes.’

“That was kind of the first profound story. That’s when I first started drawing.”

And she hasn’t stopped.

“When I’m in the middle of the process, I really like being on that roll where nothing else exists,” LaPlante says.

“Life is too short to not be doing what I love, and what I love is art. I get into a trance or into a zone when it comes to making my marks on a paper. Drawing is so expressive, so that’s why drawing is one of my main techniques. I feel like I’m in my element.”

That is where she would like to stay.

“I really want to keep meeting people,” LaPlante says. “At the same time as meeting people, I want to maintain relationships through sports, through art.

“This is a great intersectional experience for me as somebody of many hats, because it brings a lot of people together. So, in a sense, I want art to take me into those places that keep bringing my people together.”

Brianna LaPlante grew up only five blocks from The Yard — the Regent Park basketball courts, which are now graced with her artwork.
Brianna LaPlante grew up only five blocks from The Yard — the Regent Park basketball courts, which are now graced with her artwork. Photo by KAYLE NEIS /Regina Leader-Post

An accompanying goal is to pursue education and embrace art beyond the receipt of her first university diploma. A longer-term goal is to pursue a master’s degree and eventually teach.

“I will never stop learning for the rest of my life,” LaPlante says. “I guess being a life-long learner means that I will also want to be a life-long teacher.”

Would it logically follow, then, that she would like to become an art teacher?

“I hope so,” she responds. “I just want to pass on the things that I’m good at, because I started somewhere with people who took time with me.

“Art is so indivisible from the Indigenous culture. I kind of feel that way towards my art. I never really woke up and decided ‘I want to be an artist.’ I always drew. I always emulated what I saw in front of me. I emulated what I wanted to see in front of me.

“There was no ‘aha!’ moment. It was always part of my life.”

And it always will be.

rvanstone@postmedia.com

twitter.com/robvanstone

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