The Estevan Art Gallery and Museum (EAGM) invites the community to explore the role of language through works of three Indigenous Saskatchewan artists.
The exhibition, named I do not Have My Words, recently opened at the Gallery 2. The project is curated and organized by the Moose Jaw Museum and Art Gallery with funding assistance from the City of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan Arts Board, SaskCulture, SaskLotteries and the Canada Council for the Arts. It is toured through the Organiztion of Saskatchewan Arts Councils' (OSAC) Arts on the Move program. The exhibition showcases works of Joi T. Arcand, Catherine Blackburn and Audrey Dreaver.
“Notions of community, time, loss and adaptation are themes that we see existent in both of the exhibitions that we are looking at,” said EAGM director and curator Amber Andersen at the opening of the exhibit and The Quality of your Involvement will be the Measure of Your Reward by Terri Fidelak.
The project, featuring printmaking, sculpture, photography and beaded mixed media works, raises a lot of questions about the reality the artists explore and ideas they put into their art. Each piece looks into language loss and considers how language can be connected to one’s cultural identity.
Arcand, working with photo prints, explores the interruption of intergenerational language-learning, as a result of the residential school system and other colonial attempts to remove Indigenous culture, through the revitalization of the Cree language. In 2006 Arcand became a co-founder of a contemporary Indigenous art gallery, called Red Shift Gallery, in Saskatoon.
Dreaver’s prints in artistic form reproduce her research into her family’s history of Cree language loss and reflect how this loss has impacted her own cultural identity as a Cree woman.
According to the exhibit’s statement, Blackburn’s art practice is informed by her Dene and European ancestry, considering Canada’s colonial past through her personal experiences. Blackburn is represented by Slate Fine Art Gallery in Regina and Alcheringa Gallery in Victoria, B.C.
At the reception, Andersen noted that Blackburn was nominated for the Sobey Art Awards.
“A huge congratulations to Catherine Blackburn for being nominated and making the Sobey long list. The Sobey Awards were actually established in 2002 and aimed to promote new developments in contemporary Canadian art and create opportunities for artists bringing them national and international attention,” said Andersen.
The top finalist receives a $100,000; each of the four finalists gets $25,000, and other artists who made it to the long list receive $2,000 each.
“So we’ll keep our fingers crossed for Catherine and good luck to all the people who would make the short list,” said Andersen.
After Estevan, the exhibition will continue on to 14 more communities through the OSAC's program.