Calgary art exhibition celebrates Indigenous connections to land

·2 min read
Zoe Buckskin stands between two of her artworks, Views (right) and Divine Feminine (left), which lent its name to the exhibition at the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary.  (Jo Horwood/CBC - image credit)
Zoe Buckskin stands between two of her artworks, Views (right) and Divine Feminine (left), which lent its name to the exhibition at the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary. (Jo Horwood/CBC - image credit)

A new art exhibition at the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary Nature Centre in Calgary is highlighting the work of local Indigenous artists and their connection to the land.

Divine Feminine is the summer instalment of a year-long rotating art exhibition series from the City of Calgary called Land is Home.

Jessica McMann, the Indigenous curator for the city's public art program, said just three per cent of the city's entire public art collection is by Indigenous artists.

Through the Land is Home project, McMann wants to bring more Indigenous creations into the public eye.

"It starts people on that path toward reconciliation when they see artwork that they can resonate with, and it may not look how they think Indigenous artwork looks," said McMann.

"We have all these unique pieces ... and [they] will bring those conversations and encourage people to make those connections and reach out and start to learn about the Treaty 7 nations in this area."

Jo Horwood/CBC
Jo Horwood/CBC

Zoe Buckskin from Kainai Nation is one of three artists being profiled in this season's exhibition.

"That's a view I see all the time," Buckskin explained about one of her sculptures. "So, it's reflected in a lot of my art pieces with the patterns and colours and objects that are used."

"I used moon, mountain and teepee structures to represent home for me," said Buckskin, who recently graduated from the artisan entrepreneur program at Portage College where she learned different forms of artwork like welding.

The exhibition also includes the digital art of Kelsey Twoyoungmen from Stoney Nakoda Nation as well as the work of Hali Heavy Shield, Buckskin's aunt.

"She was actually the one that sent me the link to apply for this exhibition, and it was cool because my uncle actually applied for it as well, and he's featured here at the Bird Sanctuary," said Buckskin, whose grandmother inspired her to begin her journey as an artist.

Jo Horwood/CBC
Jo Horwood/CBC

Celebrating Indigenous women artists

McMann said she's happy with how the selection of artists in this round of the exhibition came together.

"It really made sense to have them in the summer when we celebrate women, we celebrate the Earth, we celebrate the summer," said McMann.

"All of their artwork seemed to really speak to each other, especially with their themes: Kelsey Twoyoungmen with her women's empowerment, then we have the Divine Feminine, which the exhibit is named after, and then you have the home and that connection to the home, and the Land is Home, literally in the name of Zoe's sculpture."

The summer exhibition will be open until Sept. 29. McMann said there are plans for a permanent space for Indigenous art once the Bird Sanctuary finishes some renovations.

Entry to the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary is free.

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