Posts Tagged ‘clay’

Two Canadian First Nations women, Jane Ash Poitras and Rebecca Belmore,  have their art on display at the moment.  Both women are concerned about the effects of history on their culture and heritage.  Both mix politics into their art.   How do you rise out of oppression while preserving your heritage?  What are the issues surrounding acculturation and do you deal with them?   But as you can see, they approach their art in very different ways.

At the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) are four paintings by Jane Ash Poitras (b. Fort Chipeywan Alberta 1951).   Poitras is Cree.  She was orphaned at the age of 6 and raised by a Catholic German woman in Edmonton.  Before turning to art, she earned a BSc in microbiology.

below: ‘Buffalo Seed’, mixed media, 2004.  Old black and white photos are used in this collage along with sunflower petals and fabulous colours of oil paint.

colourful collage and painting by Jane Ash Poitras. Uses old black and white photos

below: “Potato Peeling 101 to Ethnobotany 101”,  Placed side by side, these two large works serve to contrast traditional indigenous knowledge of medicinal plants with the teachings imposed on indigenous youth by the residential school system.

2 large assemblages, collages, by Jane Ash Poitras, called Potato Peeling 101 to Ethnobotany 101, on display at the Royal Ontario Museum

below: There is a lot of detail in the two boards that get lost in a photo like the one above so here is a closer look at some of the photos in the collage above

collection of old black and white photos of First Nations kids in schools

text of a quote by Rebecca Belmore that says "for decades I have been working amongst my people, calling to the past, witnessing the present, standing forward, facing the monumental

 

“Facing the Monumental” is the title of the Rebecca Belmore exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario.  It covers three decades of her work and includes photographs, sculptures, and videos of her performance art.   Her art is more conceptual.

Belmore is an Anishinaabe woman from the Lac Seul First Nation.  She spent her childhood in northwestern Ontario with her maternal grandparents where she spoke Ojibwa.  For high school, she boarded with a white family in Thunder Bay.  Many First Nations communities are too small to support a high school so students are sent to live elsewhere while they complete their education.  It is a system with many problems.  It’s probably fair to say that the whole “system” is problematic.

below: ‘Sister’ 2001.  An ambiguous image – why does the woman have her arms stretched out?  What is happening here?

Sisters, art by Rebecca Belmore at the AGO from 2001

below: “Tower”, 2018.  A condo tower of shopping carts around a clay core – the carts symbolize the homeless.

art by Rebecca Belmore at the AGO

below: “Mixed Blessing”, 2011.  Two cultures.  Blending?  Fighting each other?  Hiding in embarrassment?

art by Rebecca Belmore at the AGO

below: And last, “Fringe” 2007.  Like two of the three artworks above, Belmore uses the body to address violence against First Nations people, especially women.   The image draws you in and repels you at the same time.   You don’t want it to be real but there is the possibility that it is.   If it makes you feel better, the diagonal scar is created using make-up and what looks like blood are strings of beads.

fringe, by Rebecca Belmore, a photo of a woman's back as she's lying down, scar and beads

Jane Ash Poitras is at the ROM until April 2020.

Rebecca Belmore is the AGO until 21 October 2018.

Dia de Muertos, Day of the Dead, is a Mexican holiday where and friends come together to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died.  It occurs at the end of October (31 Oct to 2 Nov).  Here in Toronto there was a Day of the Dead festival at Harbourfront this past weekend.

fabric hanging on a wall. There is a picture on the fabric of a woman's face painted white to look like a skull but with pink around the eys. Many orange roses surround her face

One of the traditions of Dia de Muertos is the making of ofrendas which are altars dedicated to the deceased person.  Jose Clemente Orozco was a Mexican painter (1883-1949).  He specialized in painting murals in frescoes and his work can be seen in Mexico and in the USA.

elaborate and colourful ofrenda with purple, blue and pink paper cut outs on the wall behind.
Another altar that was on display was one made by artist Alberto Cruz in honour of Pablo Picasso.

An ofrenda, or altar, in the memory of Pablo Picasso at a day of the dead festival. There is a photo of him surrounded by different objects and symbols representing his life and things that he did

The Casa Cultura Mexicana made an ofrenda to honour the Prehispanic indigenous people and warriors of Mexico.
The bottom part consisted of pictures made with coloured rice.

pictures made of coloured rice on an ofrenda dedicated to the indigenous people of Mexico

Food items such as rice, beans, and corns were an important part of the ofrenda.

a face shape made of dried beans and corn. red beans make a circle around the face, black beans make 6 rays coming out from the circle. The face is corn with bean features.

Ofrendas are decorated with sugar skulls and marigolds (or yellow and orange paper flowers) as well as candles, photos, momentos from the person’s life, and things that symbolize something about that person.  Sometimes serious, sometimes whimsical.

an ofrenda with a picture of a woman in a frame sitting on a table. One each side of her is an elaborately decorated skull. One of the skulls is wearing sunglasses and a wreath of yellow and orange flowers around the top of its head.

What would your friends and family put on an ofrenda in your memory?

objects on an ofrenda at a day of the dead celebration, decorated skulls, a small skeleton, some old photos of people, flowers, fruit,

There was also clay available if you wanted to make a small skull or other symbol for the occasion.

close up picture of a man putting details on a small clay skull with a toothpick

Two girls with day of the dead face paint on are making clay skulls. A young boy is also at the table making a skull, his mother is helping him.

A young man carefully adds tiny clay roses to a clay skull that he has made.

A small figurine made of a clay of a skeleton wearing a sombraro and playing a guitar is in the foreground, kids making clay skulls at a table are in the background.

skull painted white and then decorated with black, green, red and white

Rest in Peace.

ofrenda, altar, day of the dead celebration, woman's picture along with Virgin Mary candles and other pink cnadles, lots of orange flowers too