Moncton woven prayer rug exhibit brings together Muslim and Indigenous cultures

·2 min read
Dialogues of Spirit by Damian John and Michelle Sirois Silver (Submitted by Resurgo Place - image credit)
Dialogues of Spirit by Damian John and Michelle Sirois Silver (Submitted by Resurgo Place - image credit)

An exhibit of woven prayer rugs examines connections made by Indigenous and Muslim artists and is now on display at Resurgo Place in Moncton.

Titled, Weaving Cultural Identities, the collection is part of the Vancouver Biennale national tour and will be at the museum until Aug. 22.

The exhibit features 10 woven prayer rugs from 10 Coast Salish Indigenous artists and eight Muslim artists who came together to explore reconciliation and intercultural relations.

Sophie Auffray, the heritage development officer at Resurgo Place, said the exhibit is inspiring and the first of its kind at the museum.

"I find it really beautiful once you read the inspiration for each rug and how the artists had come together," she said.

Skw’enmáylh - Prayer by Michelle Nahanee and Angela George
Skw’enmáylh - Prayer by Michelle Nahanee and Angela George(Submitted by Resurgo Place)

"They're from different cultures and different backgrounds and they found ways of connecting, which I find super inspiring."

She said one of her favourite pieces was made by two artists with very different backgrounds, who both lost their traditional language.

The artists, Damian John and Michelle Sirois Silver, both dealt with not fully understanding their cultural identity and heritage because they weren't taught their ancestral language.

Titled, Dialogues of Spirit, the work was graphically designed by John and later woven into a prayer rug by Silver. The phrases, "I hear you" and "I see you" are inscribed in French, English and Tl'azt'en Dene, in the long antlers of an elk.

Auffray said the Vancouver Biennale, a contemporary art museum, asked if Resurgo would be part of the exhibit tour last year.

"We were so excited when the Vancouver Biennale got in touch with us to see if we wanted to be part of their annual, national tour. It's such an honour," she said.

Find What You Need by Doaa Jamal, Dawn Livera and Adrienne Neufeld
Find What You Need by Doaa Jamal, Dawn Livera and Adrienne Neufeld(Submitted by Resurgo Place)

Auffray said Resurgo hopes this exhibit will help engage more local Indigenous and Muslim artists at the museum, as it works to incorporate more diverse works.

"We've always seen this as something very essential to building a healthy, welcoming community," she said.

Resurgo sponsored the translation of the exhibit, originally only offered in English, to French.

"The Biennale was so delighted about that, because it helped make the exhibit more accessible for other Canadians across Canada," she said.

Auffray said all exhibits at Resurgo Place must be presented in both official languages because it's owned by the City of Moncton.