National Indigenous Peoples Day

In celebration of National Indigenous Peoples day we’d like to take a moment to highlight some past and present public installations.

Elk for c̓əsnaʔəm was a public installation at Vancouver City Centre Canada Line Station by Dana Claxton

When asked to conceive an original work for this site relating to the theme of “the city before the city,” Claxton considered precolonial landscapes and animal nations such as elk, deer, bear, beaver, mink, raccoon, skunk, and coyote populations that circulated through these lands according to their own natural logic.

(Image credit: Dana Claxton, Elkfor c̓əsnaʔəm [Installation view], 2015 Photo by Vishal Marapon)

1UP was a site-specific architectonic installation created for Surrey Art Gallery’s offsite projection venue, UrbanScreen by Sonny Assu

A colloquial term in gaming culture, “1UP” grants an extra life to a player through an achievement or item. Drawing on this term, Assu’s artwork 1UP becomes a metaphor for how the First People have risen up for rights within a system that was designed to oppress and assimilate them.

(Image credit: Sonny Assu, 1UP, 2016, Installed on Surrey Art Gallery’s UrbanScreen Photo by Edward Westerhuis)

A colour photographic print is presented on the glass face of the SkyTrain station facade. Around the station, the surrounding environment (condo buildings, cars on the street, bricked pathways, grey sky) can be seen.

Here on Future Earth was an installation at Vancouver City Centre Canada Line Station by Joi T. Arcand

Concerned with the invisibility of Indigeneity in contemporary Canadian culture and, in particular, how erasures of Indigenous presence, culture, and histories have been enacted in space and through language.

(Image Credit: Joi T. Arcand, Don’t Say Bread Say Bannock, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, from the series otē nīkān misiwē askīhk – Here On Future Earth (installation image) 2009, Photo: roaming-the-planet)

Fraser River Families was a public installation at Richmond – Brighouse Canada Line Station by Diamond Point

Drawing on the scared symbolism of salmon in Musqueam culture, this project drew upon Musqueam community members images of their families fishing for salmon in the Fraser River, a community and familial practice.

(Image Credit: Diamond Point Fraser River Families, 2019 installation at Richmond-Brighouse Station. Photo: roaming-the-planet)

Earthbound Mnemonic was Capture’s 2019 Dal Grauer Installation by Krista Belle Stewart

Stewart used as source material a photograph of tiles she made out of earth from her home in Spaxomin, which she then digitally manipulated and coloured in red and copper to create a visually and contextually multilayered work

(Krista Belle Stewart, Earthbound Mnemonic, 2019, digitally manipulated photograph printed on copper vinyl. Photo: roaming-the-planet)

Self-Portrait with mended flesh was a public installation at Aberdeen Canada Line station by Manuel Axel Strain

Wrapped in their grandmother’s scarf, the artist’s arms metaphorically carry a spiritual connection and kinship to their ancestors. With such gestures of guidance and care by the older generation, the artist reflects on the traumatic times of their life, expressed in terms of vulnerability and resilience in reference to current and historical forms of colonial violence.

(Image Credit: Installation view of Manuel Axel Strain’s Self-portrait with mended with flesh, 2020. Courtesy of the Artist’s ancestors Helen Point and Marie Eustache. Photo: Richmond Art Gallery.)

From A Still Unquiet Place is a public installation currently on view at Vancouver City Centre Canada Line Station by Meryl McMaster

McMaster presents herself in the location of her father’s childhood home at Red Pheasant First Nation, Saskatchewan. Her head is obscured by a handcrafted headdress in a local military style. Re-enacting patrimonial stories and often photographs herself performing as historical and mythological figures who are prominent in narratives related to each chosen location

(Meryl McMaster, From A Still Unquiet Place, 2019, Courtesy of the Artist and Stephen Bulger Gallery and Pierre-François Ouellette art contemporain. Photo: Jocelyne Junker, Capture)

Works from the tth’í’ yáw nan (thread beads land) series is a public installation currently on view at King Edward Canada Line Station by Krystle Coughlin Silverfox

Coughlin Silverfox conjures the long history of landscape painting and photography, but in the act of purposefully blurring and abstracting the scenes to create painterly and unspecific images of these sites, the artist simultaneously refuses this art historical tradition.

(Image Credit: Krystle Coughlin Silverfox, Works from the tth’í’ yáw nan (thread beads land) series, 2018, Courtesy of the Artist. Photo: Jocelyne Junker, Capture)

Works from the Altered Landscapes series is a public installation currently on view at Waterfront Station by Aaron Leon

 This series invites participants to think of the land as a teacher and Knowledge Keeper, recognizing how slowing down and engaging thoughtfully with our environments leads to new, deeper understanding.

(Image credit: Aaron Leon, Works from the Altered Landscapes series, 2013-16, Courtesy of the Artist. Photo: Jocelyne Junker, Capture)

al’taqiaq: it spirals is the current Dal Grauer installation by Jordan Bennett

A moose skull gifted to the artist, brightly painted, takes the skull’s patterns directly from the ancestral designs found on a porcupine basket created by ancestor Mi’kmaw artists, an artifact currently held in the collection of the Museum of Vancouver. The photographed skull on Mi’kma’ki land reconnects the spirit of the displaced basket back to its origin and home territory.

(Image Credit: Jordan Bennett, al’taqiaq: it spirals, 2020, Courtesy of the Artist. Photo: Jocelyne Junker, Capture Photography Festival.)

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