pi’tawkewaq | our people up river

Exhibition Title: pi’tawkewaq | our people up river

Artist: Meagan Musseau

Opening: Thursday, March 5th, 2020, 7-9pm

Exhibition Dates: March 6th - April 11th, 2020

The gallery closed to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic before this exhibition was finished. We were saddened not to be able to share this exhibition with you in person, however we created a virtual tour video of the exhibition, and the publication is available here: pi’tawkewaq_our people up river_Musseau_grunt gallery

For her first solo exhibition in Vancouver, Meagan Musseau presents a body of work from her ongoing research responding to Beothuk and Mi’kmaq visual culture. Musseau uses a multi-disciplinary practice that involves archival research, land-based action, video, drawing, and sculpture to explore land, language, and design. By telling stories about cultural belongings from the perspective of a contemporary L’nu woman living on Ktaqmkuk (Newfoundland), Musseau’s work transfers knowledge from archived collections into contemporary visual consciousness.

A braided sculpture made during a land-based action in Musseau’s home region of Elmastukwek (Bay of Islands, NL) forms the physical and conceptual center of the exhibition. While the act of endurance required to create the 22 foot braid connects to stories and nomadic histories of the Mi’kmaq, the object itself carries the history of the land in its creation. A series of tall sculptures rendered in engraved plexiglass reference Beothuk caribou bone pendants that Musseau visited during museum research. Evoking the artist’s experience of visiting cultural belongings through plexiglass cases, the sculptures re/awaken their designs by enlarging them to a human scale and presence. A site specific wall installation integrates the material qualities of the braid with graphic elements from the pendant designs. These textures surround an image of Musseau beside one of Santu Toney, a woman living in the early 1900s with mixed Mi’kmaw and Beothuk ancestry. Musseau’s work seeks to honour Santu by highlighting the transmission of knowledge that exists between past, present, and future generations.

pi’tawkewaq | our people up river presents contemporary cultural belongings that index and render tangible Musseau’s active practice of building and maintaining her relationships to land and ancestor artists. She uses her perspective to overturn colonial narratives of disappearance and instead addresses the role of interterritorial relationships between the two nations as a guiding methodology.

This exhibition received support from the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council. The artist would also like to acknowledge Grenfell Art Gallery and the Makerspace in Corner Brook, NL.

Meagan Musseau is an L’nu artist from the Mi’kmaq Nation. Her practice is rooted in Elmastukwek, Ktaqmkuk territory (Bay of Islands, Western Newfoundland) and extends to other areas of Mi’kma’ki and Wabanaki territory. Musseau nourishes an interdisciplinary practice by working with customary art forms and new media, such as basketry, beadwork, land-based performance, video and installation. She focuses on creating artwork, dancing, learning the Mi’kmaw language, and facilitating workshops as a way to actively participate in survivance. Her work has been exhibited at AKA artist-run centre, Saskatoon; Eastern Edge Gallery, St. John’s; VOX centre de l’image contemporaine, Montreal; Walter Phillips Gallery, Banff; and Kelowna Art Gallery, among others. She has been supported by numerous awards, and featured in publications such as Canadian Art, Border Crossings, and Visual Arts News. Meagan is working towards solo exhibitions at TRUCK Contemporary Art Gallery (Calgary 2020) and Ociciwan Contemporary Art Centre (Edmonton, 2020/21).

Laurie White is a curator and writer from Sheffield, England. She holds an MA in Critical and Curatorial Studies from the University of British Columbia. Her thesis exhibition project at Or Gallery, We Built a House Out of the Things We Had Gathered, explored salvage and bricolage as modes of ecological practice in contemporary art. She has curated exhibitions at the fifty fifty arts collective, Victoria; AHVA Gallery, UBC; and Western Gallery, Bellingham. She co-edited the catalogue Beau Dick: Devoured by Consumerism (Figure 1 Publishing) for Fazakas Gallery and her writing will appear in the forthcoming catalogue, Beginning with the Seventies published by the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery. Laurie is currently the Assistant Curator at the Or Gallery.

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