Art exhibit showcases Indigenous feminine landscape

By Miranda Leybourne

 Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

A new art exhibit showcasing the collaboration and sisterhood of Indigenous women, focusing on the Indigenous way of knowing a feminine landscape, is coming to the Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba.

The exhibit is called “Maada’ookii,” the Anishinaabe word for “to share,” and will be running to the Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba (AGSM) from Aug. 25 to Oct. 15 in the community gallery.

A press release from the AGSM said the Indigenous Rural Arts Mentorship program the exhibit is a part of was sponsored by Mentoring Artists for Women’s Art and the Manitoba Arts Network. It will feature artworks by the Micet Tipiskawi-pisimak Collective, which means “many moons” in Swampy Cree-Ininew. It’s made up of Frances Cooper and Tessa Ray Houston, two Metis artists; Annie Courchene, an Anishinaabe artist; and Kristy Janvier, a Dene artist.

Most of the art, the release said, was made using hand-stitching practices and are the result of a year-long mentorship with Lita Fontaine, whose work also features in the exhibit.

Fontaine, who is an art educator with the Seven Oaks School Division in Winnipeg, said she was overwhelmed with the talent of the women she mentored throughout the program.

“The four women were just so mind-boggling. I learned from them,” she told the Sun.

“They have many skills and ideas, and I was just so overwhelmed with their gifts.”

The group met every two weeks, mainly on Zoom, Fontaine said.

Throughout the process, the women learned more about themselves and their art.

“I’m hoping that I gave them some direction in their art practices.”

Beyond learning and creating art, Fontaine said the mentorship program also provided all the women, herself included, with a sense of sisterhood.

“It was awesome. I just can’t even really express it enough. I was very happy with what we went through we shared amongst each other.”

Lucie Lederhendler, curator at the AGSM, said the exhibit will also showcase themes of honouring the past while acknowledging “painful truths.”

“Art is a way of communication, a way of getting your own truth out to the project,” she told the Sun.

“When we talk about women in the context of this mentorship  1/8program 3/8, and especially Indigenous women, it’s about having another look at these different ways of learning and teaching and knowing that happen more in an oral tradition, in the act of making, these things in the domestic sphere being brought out into the public as a legitimate way of being in the world and asserting your place.”

A reception for the exhibit will be held at the AGSM on Sept. 22, while an artist panel will be held online on Aug. 26 at 1 p.m. on the AGSM’s social media channels.

 Miranda Leybourne is a  Local Journalism Initiative Reporter who works out of the BRANDON SUN. The LJI program is federally funded. Turtle  Island News does not receive LJI funding.


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