Preparations have begun for the second Intergenerational Métis Artist Mentorship Project at the Mann Art Gallery. On Monday, artist Leah Dorion, this year’s mentee Ashley Smith and guest artist and last year’s mentee Danielle Castle began preparations for the first of three art installations which will begin mounting on Friday.
The project builds on last year’s project which created five art installations in the city and was a collaboration between Castle and Dorion.
“Because Danielle is now introducing Ashley to the project. So the concept is that Leah, as an established Métis artist, imparts knowledge, skills, values and very practical artistic techniques and practices to a new generation of Métis artists and cultural leaders, ”explained Lana Wilson. , educator at the Mann Art Gallery.
Wilson explained that galleries and museums have neglected Indigenous arts and cultural practices, and the Mann is deliberately trying to incorporate and indigenize the space to compensate for this.
“We want to do more Indigenous art in the gallery, we want to do our part to showcase and uplift Indigenous artists,” Wilson said.
The project brings together cultural practices and modern art practices.
“It’s fantastic because Leah talks about the learning model as being so important to Indigenous culture and it’s also a common technique among even artists of European descent that a younger artist will mentee a established artist, ”Wilson said.
“In this case, it is important to impart not only artistic skills and practices and for two artists to share ideas to exchange ideas, but also to maintain this strong line of indigenous values and techniques of artistic creation and power. build capacity and promote the capacity that already exists in this case within the Métis arts community.
Starting at 1 p.m. on Friday, artists will set up a cardboard bison jump on the flower beds on the west side of the gallery
“What we’re doing today is painting the cardboard bison and horses that will be part of the Métis bison hunting facility. So all of these bison and horses are going to be placed in the flower beds on this west side of Rawlinson Center, ”Wilson said.
The opportunity to paint horses and bison took place Monday morning and afternoon.
“The horses are going to come in from the side in a flank formation and they are going to lead the wedge-shaped cardboard bison over the bison jump, which in this case is the four-inch sidewalk in the parking lot, so that’s is a tiny bison jump, but that’s the idea, ”she added.
While setting up the installation, artists will talk about the importance of the bison to the Métis and the reason for this specific hunting method.
“We can talk to all the people who come so that there are historical and traditional learnings there,” Wilson said.
The day should be warm and the public is asked to bring a lawn chair and water if they participate and chat with the artists.
“The artists will talk about Métis values, the valuable words they paint on the bison, they paint them in English and Michif. So these are words like love, creator, nature, balance, strength. These are all traditional Métis values and they tie very strongly to two books Leah has published, ”Wilson said.
These books by Dorion are The Giving Tree: A Retelling of a Traditional Métis Story and Bison Camp Circle: A Métis Culture Way of Life, which is Dorion’s last book.
The installation of the bison outside the gallery will be fun, convivial, accessible, it will brighten things up. People can come to view art in a socially distanced way. It was a big part of the project last year. The galleries have been closed, how can we create a way for people to experience art in a safer way? “
Due to COVID-19, the galleries weren’t open for part of last year and the exterior project worked so well that they decided to bring it back with the three facilities close to the gallery.
“I think it’s going to be a really fun way because it’s also going to indigenize the space around the Mann Art Gallery and Rawlinson Center and it’s perfect because we’re right next to the bridge,” Wilson said.
She explained that the wolf sculpture at the front of the gallery is already an attraction and that with its location it should be a real attraction in the city ”,
“We hope that people will stop and come and watch it because from a distance they will see these brightly painted bison but we hope it will invite them to come closer. And then they will see these positive messages and words about traditional values and they will really enjoy seeing these Métis cultural symbols and colors expressed in the bison, so it will be really fun, ”Wilson said.
The other two projects underway over the summer will be spaced out to last until September. At the end of July, the dates have not been fixed according to Wilson, Smith and Dorion will create a large willow meditation bridge.
“We will invite groups and members of the community to come and learn who to tie the willow, to learn about the teachings of the willow and the importance of the willow and the right time to harvest it and we will create this meditation bridge,” Wilson said.
The walkway will again have signs that repeat the words of Métis values in English and Michif and will include stumps to contemplate the values and enjoy the green space.
“It’s a way, again, to bring traditional indigenous materials and technology to weave willow to this urban setting.”
Wilson said they were still working with the city on a specific location.
“We’re in the process of determining the space, but it will definitely be around the gallery,” Wilson said.
The third installation in mid-August will see Dorion and Smith collaborate on the temporary traditional Métis lobster. They’ll cut down a tree and strip the log and stand it up for three days.
“Ashley and Leah will be here at the gallery painting and burning wood and doing some lobster carving. And the public will be invited to come see them and discuss with the artists. So it will really be like an artist residency where people watch the artist at work, hear about his practice, and then the lobstick will be in place for several weeks, ”Wilson said.
The project will all be connected to the Mann Art Gallery and will serve a larger purpose.
“This will serve as a marker, this is what the lobsticks are for, to be able to welcome people into the gallery and once again deliberately indigenize that space in a visual way,” Wilson said.