Amy Paul says her sister’s disappearance in December has been devastating for their entire community.
Erin Brooks was last seen Dec. 27 in the Wolastoqey community of Sitansisk, St. Mary’s First Nation, near Fredericton wearing blue jeans, a black jacket and black boots.
“You watch the news and you feel for the families but you think like that can’t happen here,” said Paul.
“But it does and it happens every day, but you don’t realize it until it happens so close to home or in your family.”
Paul said their mother tries their best to hold it all together but calls her up to just cry sometimes. Paul said she’s focused all of her energy on trying to locate her sister, but once she’s found she’ll process her emotions.
“You don’t realize the toll that it takes on the family but I think that it needs to be brought to light,” she said.
Paul said she hopes an upcoming art exhibit in her community can do just that for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG).
The exhibit’s curator, Mason Paul, another Sitansisk community member, says “I really wanted to educate people on this.”
Mason Paul is a professional photographer and has three photo series in the exhibit that runs Friday and Saturday. The first is called Rooted and will feature Indigenous women in regalia to show their strength in culture. Another will feature women in red handprints a prominent MMIWG symbol. The third will be the largest and will feature Indigenous women on the land.
Mason Paul said his prints will be sold at a silent auction with 50 per cent of the proceeds going to the Gignoo Transition House, a local organization to help vulnerable Indigenous women. Sixty-four per cent of Indigenous women in Atlantic Canada reported experiencing physical or sexual assault since the age of 15, according to a Statistics Canada report from April.
Mi’kmaw artist Brandy Googoo will display a beaded heart artwork in the exhibit. She said she spent 120 hours working on the piece because she wanted to raise awareness of the violence women face.
“I’ve seen a lot; I’ve lived through a lot and I’ve helped my friends and family through a lot of experiences,” said Googoo.
Googoo said her father was a Sixities Scoop survivor and they grew up off reserve. Being a brown-skinned family led them to face racism and physical violence, she said, and the artwork is a reflection of that pain.
The heart in the piece represents Indigenous women as the heartbeat of their nations, the purple eye represents domestic violence and the red handprint symbolizes the continued silencing of Indigenous women.
“We can take our traumas and turn our traumas into beautiful artwork,” said Googoo.
Fredericton Police said in an emailed statement that they continue to investigate the disappearance of Erin Brooks.
“We have issued several requests for public assistance and continue to follow up on all tips received from the public,” the statement said.
Anyone with information can contact Fredericton Police at 460-2300 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477. There is a $65,000 reward for information leading to the discovery of Erin Brooks’s location.
COLUMN: Is it still ‘art’ with artificial intelligence?
I’m terrible at making art.
I probably have the artistic ability of a five-year-old, drawing stick men and the like, but I can usually colour within the lines in a colouring book, so I’m not completely without talent.
My wife, on the other hand, is quite a creative artist and I envy what she can make every day.
However, being a photographer helps me feel a little better about myself when it comes to creating art. I usually know what I want to capture and how I want to capture it when I pick up my camera.
I also know that I have a wild imagination. If only I could express that somehow, because making photos is almost always about capturing the real world and not the make-believe that resides in my head.
And then I noticed a friend posting these fantastical images on social media that looked too good to be true, worlds that could only have come from an imagination like my own. The characters and scenes that he had made were so true-to-life that it was hard to dismiss it sometimes as completely make-believe.
That was my first introduction to AI art — pictures that are generated through artificial intelligence (AI) software. Basically, digital images created out of thin air from a text prompt.
The user — or “artist” — types in a description of a scene that they wish to create, using as many or as little descriptive words as desired, and the software then builds that scene using an algorithm based on formulaic algebra. And within minutes … voila! You are presented with a piece of “art” that was created by machine learning.
The computer algorithms are written to “learn” a specific aesthetic by analyzing countless thousands of images across the internet, and the algorithm tries to generate a completely new image that adheres to the aesthetics it has learned.
Using this new technology has been a wildly entertaining rabbit hole I’ve fallen into, and it can be addictive for some who have a bit of time and an endless imagination.
But is it really art?
This is a question that researchers and artists alike have been wrestling with for years.
I do see it as an art form, as the algorithms and the computing power could be interpreted as being no different than the tools a traditional artist uses, such as a canvas, brush and paints.
The art is just in a different physical form, and what is driving the results in both the case of the painter and the person like myself using a computer, is the imagination of that person.
This isn’t a new argument. Decades ago, the same was said about the use of PhotoShop to create and alter images, and since that time graphic art has mostly become the byproduct of algorithms used by software.
I do feel bad for graphic artists, though, as AI art will probably become so commonplace, that it will do away with a large chunk of the industry, as clients will be generating their own artwork to create advertisements, event posters and other media that was once the domain of talented and experienced artisans.
There are upsides, of course. Musicians, many of whom struggle financially in our new economy, can now create their own record album covers and posters to promote their shows.
Artists themselves can use the technology to physically map out a design or vibe of what they see in their head even before picking up a paint brush or pencil.
And, of course, the “artistically handicapped” people like myself can endlessly express themselves without worry about their inabilities to harness the hand-eye co-ordination required to accurately transfer thought to canvas.
Now excuse me while I get back to creating my steampunk Star Wars characters and disco Muppets.
Kevin Lamb is a local photojournalist whose work often appears on BarrieToday.
Russians Systematically Loot Art, Ancient Relics From Ukraine's Cultural Sites – The Wall Street Journal
KHERSON, Ukraine—The glass at the Kherson Regional Museum that once protected ancient pottery from the area now lies broken on the floor. The fifth-century jewelry is gone. Shelves that used to house artifacts from the Cossacks, who lived in the area before it was conquered by the Russian Empire, are now empty.
Russians packed it all onto trucks before fleeing the city last month.
“Their plan was to destroy our history,” said Olena Yeremenko, the museum’s secretary, “and say there was only Russian history here.”
The Russian retreat from Kherson has revealed a systemic attack on expressions of Ukrainian culture, say Ukrainian officials.
At the art museum, thousands of works were stolen, including all the paintings by Ukrainian artists. The director of the city’s philharmonic was killed and the local theater director briefly detained. Statues were pulled from their pedestals and brought to territory that Moscow more firmly controlled, before the last Russian troops slipped east across the Dnipro River out of Kherson on Nov. 10.
The looting is part of a wider effort to destroy any Ukrainian identity that distinguishes the country from Russia.
More than 200 Ukrainian cultural sites have been partially or completely destroyed, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. In occupied parts of the country, residents say, Ukrainian flags are banned. Wearing a vyshyvanka—a traditional Ukrainian woven shirt—can lead to detention. Books in Ukrainian are being pulled from school shelves and tossed out.
“Our culture and our language are on the front lines,” Oleksandr Tkachenko, the Ukrainian culture minister, said on Nov. 9, which the country celebrates as the day of Ukrainian language.
Russian officials didn’t respond to requests for comment, but have said publicly that they were taking both civilians and cultural artifacts from the city to protect them from Ukrainian attacks.
Russian troops began showing up at cultural sites in Kherson in late October, as the region’s Moscow-appointed government was relocating to east of the Dnipro River. At the end of the month, a group of about 10 soldiers arrived at St. Catherine’s Cathedral, where the coffin of Grigory Potemkin lay in a crypt beneath the floor, said Ilya Bologa, a priest at the cathedral.
An 18th-century statesman, Potemkin is generally credited with founding Kherson and Odessa as his lover, Russian Empress Catherine the Great, was expanding the empire south. Since his death in 1791, he has become a hero to many Russians nostalgic for imperial times. His grave has also been repeatedly dug up, often in the hopes of proving that the remains are truly his, which some locals still doubt.
The Russian soldiers picked up the wooden coffin that held Potemkin’s bones, hauled it up the thin, dim staircase, and loaded it into a van, Mr. Bologa said.
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Volodymyr Saldo, head of the Moscow-appointed administration in the Kherson region, told Russian television the bones had been brought east across the river to keep them safe.
At the same time, Russian troops were grabbing anything of value they could find on their way out of the city. Electronics stores, garages and storage lockers were pillaged, according to Kherson residents. A raccoon was taken from the local zoo; a video later posted on social media shows it biting Mr. Saldo’s finger.
The looting of cultural sites, however, was more methodical.
On Nov. 1, the Russian-installed head of the Kherson Art Museum ordered Hanna Skrypka, a Ukrainian employee, to come to the museum. When she arrived, she found 10 people in civilian clothes who introduced themselves as workers from Russian museums.
Ms. Skrypka said she spent the next 36 hours trapped in the museum, barred from leaving until the Russians had packed up and taken away everything in the collection.
She said the Russian workers told her they were evacuating the art to save it from the approaching Ukrainian army. “Otherwise, they’ll destroy everything,” she recalled them telling her.
The museum workers tried to pack the works carefully. But 30 more men with no apparent expertise were carrying the pieces out—sometimes passing them one to another in a line. Ms. Skrypka said many pieces were mishandled and likely damaged. She saw charcoal drawings smeared by their fingers.
“I think we’ll lose some of those forever,” she said.
Of the museum’s 13,500 pieces, Ms. Skrypka said, at least 10,000 were taken. Most of the sculptures remained, minus some of the most valuable ones; some paintings too big to fit through the front door were also left behind. The local religious icons were gone. The room that once held paintings by artists from Ukraine and other post-Soviet countries was completely bare.
“Obviously, they stole our Ukrainian past,” Ms. Skrypka said. The museum’s Ukrainian director, who fled Kherson in May, last week met with representatives of Unesco about the loss.
The museum was damaged last week, as Russian forces shelled Kherson from across the river. “What they did not steal, they destroy,” Mr. Tkachenko, the culture minister, wrote on Telegram, along with a picture of the museum.
Across the street, at the Kherson Regional Museum, many of the staff collaborated with the Russians, according to Ms. Yeremenko, the secretary. She was dismissed from the job in May, she said, after insulting the Russian army.
The staff that collaborated fled in October, Ms. Yeremenko said. On Oct. 24, two trucks showed up at the museum and about 50 men began loading artifacts into them.
The collection on the area’s natural history—with displays of taxidermied animals native to the region—was left mostly untouched. The Soviet-era displays also mostly survived, apart from some war medals and guns.
But rooms showing artifacts from before the Russian empire—including from ancient Greek settlements in the area—were picked clean. Documents from the city’s founding are now gone. A few stone pillars too heavy to carry easily remain, as does a cannon, which the Russians wheeled into a hallway but didn’t get out the door.
Since its founding in 1890, the museum had amassed a collection of 18,000 items. Ms. Yeremenko said that so far she had only inventoried the weapons collection; some 90% of it had been taken.
“During all those years, we collected these items,” she said. “They took it all.”
Write to Ian Lovett at email@example.com
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