Marrying geometric and floral iconography in designs for street banners, acrylic paintings Kini (2010) and Ichit'o (2010) are now on display at the Bluerock Gallery in Black Diamond.
This week I'm featuring a website that is a great example of disparate groups working together to protect special areas in the NWT. The NWT Protected Areas Strategy site is an impressive site, showcasing a unique process whereby Dene communities identify significant natural and cultural areas, and hopefully protect, with the help of industry, conservation groups, and the territorial and federal govenments. Areas of interest in the Deh Cho region include Buffalo Lake, Kakisa Lake, and Edehzhie.
Edehzhie is a biologically diverse area encompassing the Horn Plateau, Horn River, Willowlake River and Mills Lake. After several years of study, the Edehzhie working group submitted their proposal in 2010 to Environment Canada, who is currently reviewing the group's recommendation that Edehzhie be designated a National Wildlife Area. In the meantime, the federal government has not renewed (as of November 2010) the subsurface protection that had been in place for five years, thereby endangering Edehzhie and the whole process by effectively allowing mining claims to be staked in the area.
Hopefully, Environment Canada makes its' decision soon. In the meantime, the Dehcho First Nations has issued a warning to would-be stakers to stay away from the "jewel of the Mackenzie".
You can see photos, maps and descriptions of all the PAS candidate areas at www.nwtpas.ca.
I managed this week, in between rain storms, to take some pics of mine and Terrance Houle's banners (a City of Calgary banner project). They're up on the pergola by the plaza, across from City Hall.
My sketch for one of two designs for the City of Calgary's street banner projects, to be hung downtown this summer >
These designs echo blanket patterns, using First Nations’ floral and “geometric” imagery to represent the five Treaty 7 nations; the Peoples of the prairie, bushland, and mountains; the land, mountains and sky; and the beauty of our lush Alberta summers.All I need now is a couple of awkward-sized canvases (57" x 24"). The banners will be 76" x 32" (!)
This is just a brief introduction to traditional Dene and Metis artwork from Denendeh (N.W.T.), my inspiration for the Et’oah Ło paintings and drawings
Traditional Dene and Metis artwork includes beadwork, quillwork, embroidery, and moosehair tufting, on a variety of material including all manner of cloth and hide clothing, footwear, accessories and household items, including birchbark baskets. Floral designs are most often used, but so are geometric and representational designs. Women are the main artisans, creating beautiful items for friends and family, collectors, and the general marketplace. (continued...)
The University of Calgary owns a large collection of traditional artwork from my home community of Fort Providence, collected in the 1970's. You can learn more on the history of Dene crafts and view their online collection here.
If you are in the market for these beautiful works of art, every community has some sort of retail outlet for their skilled artisans, whether it be a private enterprise like the Snowshoe Inn Gift Shop in Fort Providence and Winnie's in Enterprise, or my aunt 'Gina's Red Willow Crafts in Hay River or Fort Liard's Acho Dene Native Crafts. Acho Dene Native Crafts also has a website featuring a selection of items, including that community's specialty: birchbark baskets decorated with quillwork.
Down south, Bearclaw Gallery in Edmonton carries a selection of beautiful moosehair tuftings by Corrine Sabourin from Fort Providence. Moosehair tuftings are created by pulling dyed moose hair through material so that it sticks out, and trimming it into the desired mound shape as part of a plush floral design.
They say the Blackfoot New Year begins with the first spring thunderstorm, which we had this weekend, so Happy New Year to all. It's good to get out in the warm weather again!
And our computer is fixed, so chances for blogging are a little better now. The only thing I have to mention is the new painting I've started on, Kanaskis Lakes, the seventh Etoah Lo painting. This one is large (24" x 30") and introducing more background colour. KL features Black Diamond & Turner Valley and the mountains and foothills to the west, host to many good years for me and my loved ones.
With the warm weather, I've opened up the outdoor studio for a new and hopefully productive summer. And speaking of Kananaskis, here's hoping we get a lot of quality time in the mountains this season!
I've finally got some decent photographs of the work I did this summer, thanks to photographer John Dean. Please check out my flickr to view a couple of new paintings from the Constellations Series as well as new work inspired by northern First Nations and Metis floral patterns and designs.
I never did make it to Bob Boyer's exhibition at the McKenzie in Regina, but hopefully I will get to see it as it travels across country.
I did make it back to the Shurniak for the rock art "exhibition" (museum display), which served to at least point one in the direction of the main outdoor rock art gallery that is the Churchill River in northern Saskatchewan. There, hundreds of paintings in red ochre grace the cliff walls over the lakes and waterways, a visual legacy left by the old ones.