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Visual arts exhibitions celebrate the works of Indigenous artists

TORONTO, July 7, 2004 — This summer, many of Harbourfront Centre’s visual arts exhibitions are part of its exciting Planet IndigenUs festival that runs from August 13 to 22. Planet IndigenUs is an international, multi-disciplinary contemporary arts festival celebrating the innovation, adaptability and evolution of Indigenous identity. Other visual arts exhibitions examine fables, pottery, aprons and a wall sculpture using found balls. The public opening reception for the exhibitions takes place on Friday, July 9, from 6 to 9 p.m. in York Quay Gallery. Admission to the reception and the exhibitions is free. Exhibitions run from July 10 to September 19, unless otherwise noted, at Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queens Quay West. For more information on these exhibitions, the public can call 416-973-4000 or visit

Regular hours for York Quay Gallery: Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, noon to 6 p.m.; Wednesday, Friday and Saturday till 8 p.m.; closed Monday except holiday Mondays, noon to 6 p.m. Regular hours for Case Studies, The Photo Passage and Uncommon Objects; Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Regular hours for Studio Works: Monday, Tuesday and Sunday, noon to 6 p.m.; Wednesday to Saturday till 8 p.m.

As part of Planet IndigenUs, York Quay Gallery presents Images Tell the Stories: Thread has a life of its own, an exhibition of narrative appliqué and embroidered textiles from Inuit women artists (Baker Lake, Nunavut, Canada) and Santali women artists (Dumka District, Jharkhand, India). This exhibition represents parallel textile traditions in two different cultures, both emphasizing narrative in their production. Inuit artists from Baker Lake have distinguished themselves by creating wall-hangings with wool depicting the myths, symbols and stories of their lives. Women artists from the NGO ADITHI in Bihar and Jharkhand, India have identified themselves through “khatwa” (appliqué and stitched wall hangings) incorporating the handwoven tussar silks of the Santali (tribal) women of Jharkhand.

During Planet IndigenUs, an artistic exchange will take place when two artists from each community meet to create a collaborative piece in residence. Appliqué and stitched narrative utilising materials from their respective locations will be shared to make a new work. The project will be facilitated by interpreters and volunteers. Images Tell the Stories: Thread has a life of its own is curated by Dr. Skye Morrison with Inuit works selected by Judith Nasby from The MacDonald Stewart Art Centre at the University of Guelph. Artistic Producer for Planet IndigenUs is Denise Bolduc and the Artistic Associate is Kristine Germann.

On display in Case Studies is Possible Futures, part of Planet IndigenUs. In popular stereotypes, the future of Aboriginal peoples is all in the past. Their cultures have either vanished irretrievably or must be meticulously recovered from a time before contact with Europeans. In this one-sided view, value and authenticity are measured against a romantic idea of the past. This not only limits particular possibilities for Aboriginal people today, it closes down the idea of possibility itself, the hopeful, creative lure of the future. Poised between hope and fear, this exhibition is about the possibility of the future. Four Aboriginal artists– Skawennati Tricia Fragnito, Nadia Myre, David Hannan and Jeff Thomas–have been invited to create two new works about the future: one that is utopian, addressed to their highest hopes, and one that is dystopian, the visualization of their worst fears. Curated by Richard Hill.

In The Photo Passage, artist Arthur Renwick exhibits Totem Hysteria, part of Planet IndigenUs. In a series of photographic diptychs, Renwick pairs large black & white photographs of traditional northwest coast First Nations totem poles alongside smaller pictures of various commercial representations of totems. In this photographic essay, by using visual puns, Renwick addresses ideas around cultural appropriation, representation and colonialism.

Toronto Potters 12th Biennial Juried Exhibition is currently on display until August 8 in Uncommon Objects. From August 13 to September 19, Uncommon Objects presents Takuminaqtut: Looking at the Beautiful as part of Planet IndigenUs. Beth Biggs, Senior Instructor, Fine Arts and Crafts Programs at Nunavut Arctic College, curates this exhibition of work from the Nunavut Arctic College jewellery and metalwork collection. Artist Mathew Nuqingaq’s work is represented in this exhibition. He has been invited for a week as part of the Metal Studio artist-in-residence programme. Biggs gives a curator’s talk and Mathew Nuqingaq makes an artist’s presentation on Saturday, August 14th at 7:30 p.m. at York Quay Centre, 235 Queens Quay West. Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for seniors and students. For tickets, the public can call 416-973-4000.

Canada Quay exhibits Species Collaboration. Artists Angus, Michael Davey and Daniel O’Connor create a wall sculpture using found balls retrieved in Canada and the United States. In 2002, a similar project was entered into the Guinness Book of World Records.

Studio Works presents Apron Tales: To Serve and Protect. Often the first thing that comes to mind when hearing the word "apron" is motherhood and homemaking. Homemade apple pie and the 1950s stay-at-home mom are some of the nostalgic images of domestic bliss one conjures up. This garment is loaded with social, cultural and symbolic meaning. It symbolizes work, fashion and domestic pride, as well as constraint, oppression and control. As garments of utility and protection, aprons communicate professional roles. Not only do homemakers wear them, but so do artists, bakers, blacksmiths, butchers, carpenters, chefs, healthcare workers, maids, radiologists and welders to name a few. Each of these apron-clad professionals provides a service, and the apron is their uniform that signifies that they are on the job! Aprons have stories to tell about their makers and the people that wear them. Resident glass artists Julie Gibb and Catherine Vamvakas Lay and textile\fibre artists Nika Feldman, Rosario Gálvez and Karen Thiessen each have a different tale to tell about aprons within their own media. New Individual work is presented as well as a collaboration from the entire group.

Fable is currently on display until September 19 at the Premiere Dance Theatre Upper Lobby, 207 Queens Quay West. Yael Brotman's drawings are rife with references to the oral and literary traditions of various cultures. Her work alludes to folk tales from Germany and Russia, to myths of gods, goddesses and heroes from ancient Greece, to the First Nations archetype of the Raven and even the dream adventure of Lewis Carroll's Alice. To evoke the dreamscape quality of fables, Brotman floats her black and white images on a blanket of a single colour. In places, the colour seems transparent, with strange shadow shapes threatening to break the surface. Further, each drawing is frayed at the edges, underlining the ethereal nature of the imaginative process, both in art making and in storytelling. Access to this exhibit is by paid admission by Premiere Dance Theatre patrons.


Media Contacts:
Linda Liontis, 416-973-4381,
David Gates, 416-973-4494,
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