Beat Nation

Vancouver, British Columbia: grunt gallery

Beat Nation began at grunt gallery in 2008 as a website project curated by Tania Willard and Skeena Reece.

“…From MCs to graff writers, video makers, painters and poets, Aboriginal rights and rhymes have inspired a new fusion of hip hop and diverse indigenous cultures. Distilling these influences into contemporary art and experimental music was an extension of using these mediums to engage young people in their culture(s). Aboriginal cultural lyricscapes peppered N8V hip hop tracks and from Cree to Inuit to Haida to Mohawk and more, our realities and our dreams were reflected in the music, the art, and the culture of hip hop.” – Excerpt from Tania Willard’s original curatorial statement, 2008.

“…Where can Indigenous expression be seen? Or perhaps a better question is where can it NOT be seen? Mainstream television, blockbuster films, radio stations, government structure and even buildings themselves. The de-saturation of Indigenous expression is a sign of colonization. For some people a pencil and paper are the only tools seen as available to document the expression of oneself. The common denominator is spoken word. Thus, Indigenous hip hop is widely accessible and crosses over cultural barriers.” – Excerpt from Skeena Reece’s original curatorial statement 2008.

Beat Nation eventually became an exhibition which was first shown at SAW gallery (below) and then grunt gallery on June 26, 2009.

BEAT NATION website:

2009 grunt gallery Exhibition Photos:


July 17, 2009 – Georgia Straight: Geek Speak: Tania Willard, curator of Beat Nation: Hip Hop as Indigenous Culture

Ottawa, Ontario: SAW Gallery

The “Beat Nation – Hip Hop as Indigenous Culture” website evolved into an exhibition that was first presented at SAW gallery in Ottawa, Ontario from April 21 to June 26, 2009.

2009 SAW gallery Beat Nation Program:

Vancouver, British Columbia: Vancouver Art Gallery

In 2012, Tania Willard was invited by Kathleen Ritter to expand the Beat Nation exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery curator. The exhibition ran from February 25 to June 3, 2012 and was a huge success.

VAG Teacher’s Study Guide 2012


February 24, 2012 – Vancouver Courier: Beat Nation remixes art, hip hop and aboriginal culture

Toronto, Ontario: The Power Plant

Beat Nation travelled to The Power Plant in late 2012. The exhibition ran from December 15, 2012 – May 5, 2013.


December 16, 2012 – The Star: Beat Nation: Art, Hip Hop and Aboriginal Culture at the Power Plant

June 28, 2013 – Canadian Art: “Q&A: Tania Willard on Life Beyond Beat Nation”

Kamloops, British Columbia: Kamloops Art Gallery

Beat Nation returned to British Columbia to exhibit at the Kamloops Art Gallery during the summer of 2013. Prior to this exhibition, Curator Tania Willard was awarded an Aboriginal Curator Residency at the KAG from October 2013 to April 2015.


July 10, 2013 – Kamloops News: Art Review: Beat Nation lures, captivates, educates

June 13, 2013 – Galleries West: Tania Willard awarded Aboriginal Curator Residency

Montreal, Quebec: Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal

Beat Nation tours to Montreal, Quebec with its largest exhibition yet. It runs from Oct 17, 2013 to January 5, 2014.



Oct 18, 2013 – Cult Montreal: Beat Nation is the Best Art Show of the Year

Nov 20, 2013 – “We have no history of colonialism,” and Other Great Canadian Myths: why Beat Nation is so important”

Dalhousie Art Gallery and St. Mary’s University Art Gallery, Halifax

March 22 – May 18, 2014

Nov 28, 2013 – Saint Mary’s Takes on Hip New Beat with Visiting Exhibition

April 25, 2014 – Keeping the beat: Aboriginal art and hip hop at the Dalhousie Art Gallery–aboriginal-art-and-hip-hop-at-the-dalhousie-ar.html

May 14, 2014 -Last Week to catch Beat Nation: Art, Hip-Hop and Aboriginal Culture at Dal and SMU galleries (Ed. Note: Stills from the exhibition)

Mackenzie Art Gallery, Regina

press release.
July 5 – September 7, 2014

Where next?

According to the Vancouver Art Gallery website, Beat Nation is no longer touring.

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