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Their ancestors were sworn enemies. Now two artists are exploring the power of apology – Art Connects on q –



An archival photograph shows Stimson’s great-great-great-grandfather Chief Old Sun in 1883. He is wearing his chief’s coat and treaty medal and holding an eagle wing fan, and his hat is trimmed with ribbons by Rev. Tims’s wife Violet. (Courtesy of Glenbow Archives)

Six years later, in 1883, Bronson’s great-grandfather, Rev. John William Tims, became the first Anglican missionary sent to the Siksika nation, where he was tasked with building the community’s first church and residential school.

As was the case across Canada, Indigenous children were taken from their parents and forced into residential schools where they were physically, sexually and emotionally abused, creating profound intergenerational trauma that still ricochets through the community half a century after Old Sun closed. Many call it a cultural genocide.

“[Rev. Tims] took the children away from their parents, he forbade them to speak their own language or practise their own customs or wear their own clothes,” Bronson said of his ancestor. “And he did his best to destroy Siksika culture.”

In a bitter twist, the Siksika school was named after Stimson’s ancestor, Chief Old Sun.

“It’s ironic that his name would be used in an institution that was meant to kill the Indian in the child,” said Stimson, who himself suffered abuse at residential schools.

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Hamilton says thank you to health-care providers through public art – Global News



The City of Hamilton is turning to public art to pay tribute to health-care workers.

With the help of a citizen-led volunteer jury, the city has announced 15 winning designs that will be printed and installed on utility boxes outside four of Hamilton’s hospitals.

The tourism and culture division’s Ken Coit says the winning designs, chosen from 92 submissions, celebrate and support the role of health care providers in managing the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read more:
‘Truly heroes’: Tributes pour in for doctors, nurses fighting coronavirus pandemic

Coit notes that one design depicts people hanging out the windows of a building, “saying thank you, just like we had that tradition of banging pots out the windows” when the pandemic started last spring.

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He says other winning submissions are “just fun and say thank you and have happy heart,” while others are “really compelling images of health-care workers.”

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Installation of the graffiti-resistant wraps should be completed in the spring on traffic signal boxes outside of Hamilton General Hospital, Juravinski Hospital and St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton — Charlton and West Fifth locations.

Read more:
Hamilton gets its first legal street art wall as part of city’s graffiti management strategy

Coit notes that the project is an extension of public art on 35 utility boxes in the downtown core last year, around the theme of “celebrating urban life.”

He says that initiatives help “prevent graffiti,” “reach out to young artists to give them an opportunity to have the stuff displayed” and “create a sense of pride of place.”

Artists will receive $650 for the use of their work.

The project is funded by Hamilton’s transportation, operations and maintenance division and through the contributions of developers to the Downtown Hamilton Public Art Reserve.

The city spends more than $2 million each year to clean up litter and graffiti, which Mayor Fred Eisenberger has described as a “pervasive problem.”

Click to play video 'YYZ Why?: Graffiti Alley evolved to become a top Toronto destination'

YYZ Why?: Graffiti Alley evolved to become a top Toronto destination

YYZ Why?: Graffiti Alley evolved to become a top Toronto destination

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Concordian Ashley Raghubir wins 2020 Canadian Art writing prize – Concordia University News



Concordia Master of Art History student Ashley Raghubir is the winner of the 2020 Canadian Art Writing Prize.

Raghubir’s award-winning essay explores the depiction of water and air in the works of Afrofuturist artist Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum and the poet Nathaniel Mackey. The Paris Review literary magazine recently featured both Phatsimo Sunstrum and Mackey.

“I was thinking about water; I was thinking about air and breath. And I was writing this essay toward the end of June, so I was very much thinking about George Floyd’s death,” Raghubir says.

“Nathaniel Mackey was responding to Eric Garner’s death in 2014, who uttered the same words about being unable to breathe.”

Raghubir notes that there is a deeply sad series of connections in this portfolio.

“My essay was thinking about those ideas and incorporating different theorists and writers and other poets whose work informed my master’s research.”

A different take on the Middle Passage

Artist and writer Gelare Khoshgozaran, a member of the prize jury, described Raghubir’s writing in a press release for Canadian Art magazine.

“It departs from the blue of painting to navigate water and air through their material and symbolic connections to Black diaspora breath,” Khoshgozaran notes.

“Framing Sunstrum’s new and recent paintings as ‘a representation of thrivance,’ Raghubir posits care and protection as constants that define the past and future of Black diaspora life and kinship.”

The prize, offered annually by Canadian Art, is meant to encourage new contemporary art writers. Raghubir will receive a $3,000 award and will be commissioned to write a feature story for a future issue.

For Raghubir, there are meaningful connections between the works she explored in her essay — particularly in Sunstrum’s depictions of her subjects near and sometimes created out of water — and the two pieces she’s focusing on for her thesis. South African Afrofuturist artist Mohau Modisakeng’s Passage and American photographer Ayana V. Jackson’s Take Me to the Water are at the core of her current research.

Both pieces engage with the Middle Passage, the forced transatlantic voyage of enslaved Africans. Modisakeng’s series of three projections depicts three Black characters in small boats that are eventually submerged by black water. Jackson’s portrait series captures Black women in regal dress against a pitch-dark background.

“I’m looking at how these artists are representing the Middle Passage in an Afrofuturist way through focusing on the concept of ancestral Black waters. I’m also looking at the use of dress in both artists’ work, the apparel and adornment, as a way to examine the Afrofuturist representations of these historical traumas,” she explains.

“I’m really interested in these works as artistic interventions into Black diasporic histories. I think that through Afrofuturism, there’s a very clear historic intervention. But it’s also a way to understand the origins of present-day contemporary anti-Black racism and violence.”

Launch of the new Afrofuturisms Research Collective

Raghubir adds that the archive of those passages is incomplete and doesn’t meaningfully reflect the stories of African men and women who experienced them, contributing to the erasure of their personal histories.

“In a way these artists representing something like the Middle Passage or other events in Black diasporic histories is a way to intervene in the representation of history that in some ways has been denigrated and not explored.”

Raghubir points to the way Modisakeng and Jackson afford their subjects the power archival records may have denied them by portraying them looking directly at the camera “in a way that conveys self-possession and agency, resistance and resilience.”

Her work is supervised by Alice Ming Wai Jim, professor of art history and Concordia University Research Chair in Ethnocultural Art Histories. Raghubir is also a core member of the Ethnocultural Art Histories Research (EAHR) student group, where she’s helped host exhibitions, galleries and public talks with Black, Indigenous and people of colour researchers.

This year, Raghubir launched the Afrofuturisms Research Collective under the EAHR’s umbrella, with fellow Concordia graduate students Ojo Agi, Anastasia Erickson and Olivia McGilchrist. The collective is hosting a virtual public lecture series during the fall and winter, and they’re considering writing together.

“We’re collaborating and supporting one another’s work through a collective practice,” Raghubir says.

“There’s clear synergy among our individual practices, and it was a really beautiful idea to come together, launch a public lecture series and really formalize what we’ve begun to do over the last few months. We’re trying to activate different theoretical frameworks on Afrofuturisms and different artistic practices.”

Find out more about Concordia’s
Afrofuturisms Research Collective and the Ethnocultural Art Histories Research Student Group.

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Student group organizes art therapy project for seniors during COVID-19 pandemic –



When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Asad Makhani worried that the seniors he worked with in long-term care, who already struggled with isolation, would see those feelings of loneliness amplified by the pandemic.

To address the problem, Makhani, a fourth-year medical student at the University of Alberta, created the Seniors Advocacy Movement with other students.

Makhani, who also works as a recreation aide at the Devonshire Care Centre, wanted to give back to the community.

The group soon came up with using art therapy, after learning how helpful it can be for people with dementia or who are in long-term care. It was especially helpful for residents with limited options for activities during the pandemic.

“It’s therapeutic for them and also gives them something to do during COVID times when a lot of activities are limited,” said Makhani, who was interviewed on CBC Radio Active on Wednesday.

“It allowed the seniors to express themselves, to draw themselves, and it’d be a venue to let out their feelings of how they’ve been isolated during the pandemic.”

The drawings of an art therapy project for seniors at the Devonshire Care Centre in long-term care. (Submitted by Asad Makhani)

The Seniors Advocacy Movement group takes the acronym for its name from Danielle Portnoy’s father Sam. Portnoy is a fellow driving force behind the group with Makhani.

The art project asks participants to draw their own faces and how they would see themselves. Many created a painting of themselves smiling, with some guidance through the process from Makhani.

The art pieces are an ongoing project that started over the summer. Currently, there about 25 completed. They’re hanging up for the public to see in a storefront at Southgate Centre. In mid-November, they’ll be displayed at a University of Alberta art gallery as well.

“It really helped me connect with them, and it’s something that I’m glad I’m able to do. It helped them improve their quality of life, and I’m pretty grateful for the opportunity,” Makhani said.

Asad Makhani and Danielle Portnoy are the driving force behind a group of medical students at the University of Alberta giving back to long-term care residents through initiatives like a recent art therapy project. (Supplied by Asad Makhani)

The project has only been held at Devonshire, Makhani said, due to the difficulty in getting access to other care centres during the COVID-19 pandemic. But once restrictions are reduced, Makhani said he’d like to bring this art project to other care centres.

The Seniors Advocacy Movement also held an online fundraiser earlier this year, putting the money toward essential items like toiletries for Devonshire residents. Makhani said they’re also hoping to hold another fundraiser later this year to buy Christmas gifts for care centre residents.

The art project was exciting for some participants who had experience painting before coming to the centre, Makhani said, adding it reminded some residents of their youth. One participant, Brian Wilkie, said he’d painted a lot in his life before and enjoyed being able to pick up this activity again.

“I felt very good when I could paint something and put some detail to it, and put some background to it,” Wilkie said.

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