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Wabanaki art takes centre stage in Fredericton –



Hundreds of Indigenous artists made their way to Fredericton this week, to celebrate Wabanaki art, to network and to showcase their own talent at the Petapan First Light Symposium this weekend.

The conference is just what Indigenous artists needed, said Jeff Ward. 

“This is for the artist by the artist, and I think it’s so important for us to share our stories,” said Ward, 48.

He’s L’nu, Mi’kmaw for person of the land, from Metepenagiag Mi’kmaq Nation and now lives in Membertou First Nation on Unama’ki (Cape Breton Island). Ward made the 643 km trip because he thinks networking and funding are still barriers for Indigenous artists but events like this can create pathways to meeting those shortfalls. 

Information Morning – Fredericton13:53Indigenous art in Atlantic Canada

Petapan is a major arts symposium opening today in Fredericton, and it features the work and performance of more than 150 Indigenous artists in Atlantic Canada.

Ward is an actor as well as the general manager at the heritage park in Membertou, where they sell authentic Indigenous crafts. 

“My day-to-day business is to work and promote art, and I need to see what’s out there, and who’s out there,” said Ward. 

He attended the film festival part of the event Friday with his uncle George Paul. Ward said he was inspired by the films showcased and hopes Indigenous actors can be featured in big budget films in the future. 

Asha Bear is a filmmaker and student at the University of New Brunswick. She is also an entrepreneur and beaded the earrings she’s wearing. (Oscar Baker III/CBC)

One filmmaker who got to make her debut at the film festival is Asha Bear, who is Wolastoqew and Mi’kmaw from Neqotkuk First Nation in New Brunswick. Her film Indigenous Identity screened at the Friday event on St. Thomas University campus. 

The film is a personal story of Bear’s and features her mother and sister as actors in the short film.

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“It’s about my journey with my Indigenous identity and what I went through,” said Bear, 26. 

“My grandmother is a residential school survivor, so growing up I didn’t really get much like culture or anything like that. It’s just really about how I became who I am today, and embracing my Indigenous identity.” 

Her grandmother was forced to attend the Shubenacadie residential school n Nova Scotia. Now, Bear is learning to dance sing and drum and runs a beading business.

Petapan runs June 9-12. Corrina Merasty, one of the organizers, is Cree from Mathais Colomb First Nation in northern Manitoba but has lived in the Wabanaki region for decades. She said the event is about learning from one another. 

About 30 vendors set up in downtown Fredericton to sell crafts. (Oscar Baker III/CBC)

“We’re all coming together as a real way to connect, to network, to celebrate and think about what we’re going to do in the future,” said Merasty, who is also the Indigenous arts outreach officer with ArtsNB. 

Events include a fashion show, art exhibits, medicine walks, an Indigenous vendors market and a film festival. Organizers covered the cost of travel, lodging and food for the artists. Merasty said the event cost close to $500,000 and was funded by the Canada Council through Mawi’Art: Wabanaki Artist Collective.

Corrina Merasty is an Indigenous arts outreach officer with ArtsNB and was on the planning committee for the Petapan First Light symposium. Merasty is also a filmmaker and actor. (Oscar Baker III/CBC)

Merasty is an actor and filmmaker herself and said the arts are meaningful to her life. 

“I can’t live without the arts.” said Merasty.

“Arts has saved my life, to be honest with you. And that’s what I try to spread.” 

Vendors at the market sold Indigenous crafts, artwork and fabrics. (Oscar Baker III/CBC)

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Art workshops for teens offered in photography, poetry – Sarnia Observer



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Hopes are participants in an upcoming art workshop series for teens also get involved in a photo contest jointly hosted by Lambton County Library and the Judith and Norman Alix Art Gallery, a gallery official says.

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The Take Your Shot Teen Photo Contest that opened in May for 13-18-year-olds, and running until July 10, is one of the reasons photography was made one of the topics in an upcoming Random Acts of Art Workshop (RAAW), said Anna Miccolis, community art and education coordinator with the downtown Sarnia gallery.

The photo contest has been held by the library dating back to around 2009, but in recent years the gallery has come on board, she said.

“It’s had a number of different names over the years,” she said about the contest.

The July 6-8 RAAW “crash course of photography basics” with photographer Sierra Rei Hart at the gallery promises to help prep youngsters with photography knowledge, including composition, perspective, lighting and editing.

Winners, meanwhile, in the contest that challenges teens to encapsulate the feeling of home in their shots, get their photographs matted and framed. A choice of prizes is available to the grand prize winner.

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The contest kicked off in May with a talk about photography and storytelling from decorated photojournalist Larry Towell.

An Aug. 12 to Oct. 8 exhibition at the gallery called Feels Like Home is planned to showcase work by Towell, from the gallery’s permanent collection, and jury-selected entries from contest participants, Miccolis said.

The other Summer RAAW workshop is poetry with spoken word artist Shelly Grace July 20-22.

It ties into 10th anniversary plans for the Judith and Norman Alix Art Gallery this fall, Miccolis said.

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“We’re looking at our permanent collection and the story of how JNAAG came to be in this building, but we’re, in that exploration of the permanent collection, we’re thinking about what our collection encompasses at this time,” she said.

“And we thought that a program centred around poetry and performance could create an opportunity for some interesting responses from youth in the community.”

Details are pending for anniversary plans in October, she said.

“But we do have a plan for a rotation of exhibits, giving a survey of the permanent collection.”

The age 14-18 RAAW series – another for 9-13-year-olds is called TNT Summer Splash – has been hosted by the gallery for more than a decade, including its pre-JNAAG days as Gallery Lambton, Miccolis said, noting the workshops are free.

Past iterations have included making murals on walls of buildings, as well as stained glass artwork and experimental painting, she said.

“As always, we’re looking to create deepened connections to the work on display,” she said. “Whether it’s a current exhibition, or using programs as a primer to exhibitions coming in the near future.”

Current gallery exhibitions include photography exhibition One Wave by Ned Pratt, and Facing North, featuring paintings by Jean Hay.

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Surprised by art — Folks Art Festival uses garbage cans as canvas – Welland Tribune



The annual Niagara Folk Arts Festival may be wrapping up, but its Art We Surprised project will be around all summer — and perhaps even beyond.

So if you’re walking in St. Catharines’ Richard Pierpoint Park and find yourself face-to-face with a piece of art, make sure to take a closer look.

It was carefully created and designed — but instead of the artist using a traditional canvas, the work is on a plastic garbage can.

The point, as the name suggests, is the surprise.

“The project came from the idea that persons walking through (the park) would suddenly come upon a highly decorated art work, and be surprised to find it out in a natural setting,” said Pam Seabrook, fundraising and events manager with Niagara Folks Arts Multicultural Centre.

Originally planned for the 2020 festival through the City of St. Catharines Centennial Gardens Partnership Fund, Art We Surprised was placed on hold due to the pandemic.

Seabrook said the pause was because organizers wanted the art pieces to create “real engagement between artists and the general public,” but in the end, settled for a hybrid model — with some solo creations, and some group pieces.

Spanning an assortment of styles and inspiration, from pencil portraits to pieces reminding residents the importance of taking care of the environment. Each art piece is created by an artist who came to Canada as an immigrant.

Seabrook said the art project is an example of what the centre stands for: the inclusion of all cultural heritages, and breaking down of racism, ageism, sexism, homophobia, perceived lack of abilities and seclusion barriers.

One of the artists, Cemile Kacmaz heard about the project through social media. Kacmaz came to Canada with her 12-year-old son in 2020, with the goal of working as an education assistant, and bringing art into special needs programming.

Originally from Istanbul, Kacmaz said she came to Canada because of the difficult political situation in Turkey, and a lifestyle she did not want her son to grow up in. Being an artist in Canada allows her a freedom of speech and expression people in Turkey — and for much of her own life — are not always allowed to share publicly.

Kacmaz attended Niagara College for two years (graduating last week), but with most classes online, said it was difficult and lonely, with no friends or family nearby.

When she learned the fold arts centre was looking for artists to participate in its annual art project, she thought it would be fun and give her a chance to become involved with the Niagara community.

Art We Surprised was an opportunity to use her art for change.

Kacmaz spent a month and a half planning, and another month painting her garbage can. It was a “long, slow process,” she said, but the organizers gave artists the ability to take their time.

“Painting is the way of communication between me and the world. It is a kind of tool to understand the world around me,” she said.

Her inspiration was the universe, and by placing the garbage cans into the space, between “planets and stars, I wanted to point out how we treat the nature we live and exist in.”

All Art We Surprised garbage cans created by artists from across the Niagara region — artists with backgrounds spanning Lebanon, Africa, Colombia and China — will be placed in St. Catharines and at Pierpoint Park this month.

The Niagara Folks Art Festival has held a community art project each year since 2019, with artists invited to participate in communal art projects, regardless of ability.

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The in-person return of Art on the Street (8 photos) – GuelphToday



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The in-person return of Art on the Street (8 photos)  GuelphToday

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