Walking from Portage Avenue, all the way down Donald Street as it turns into Cumberland Avenue, past the Burton Cummings Theatre, there’s a small grey building, almost unremarkable. Past several doors, you enter an art gallery and are confronted directly by several items of immense and thought-provoking beauty. The C2 Centre for Craft is a hidden gem.
Currently, the centre is hosting the May the Land Remember You As You Walk Upon Its Surface group exhibition of Canadian Indigenous, Inuit and Métis artists. Curated by Franchesca Hebert-Spence, the exhibition features the works of Dayna Danger, Camille Georgeson-Usher, asinnajaq and the U of M’s own school of art assistant professor Katherine Boyer.
Each creation uses beadwork in some form, the artists building relationships between the past, the present and the future.
After entering the centre, the floor creaked loudly, leaving the feeling of invading this serene space, breaking the perfect silence.
In fact, May the Land Remember You As You Walk Upon Its Surface at its core is our relationship with land — that it cannot be owned, that it is active and we actively live with it.
As for the local connections to the exhibit, Boyer’s work — as a multidisciplinary artist — deals in textile manipulation, woodworking and beadwork. Métis history and culture are visible in all her pieces in the exhibit of beaded objects and images. The use of colour and image through beading creates a pixelation that reflects the pieces’ immense cultural reverence. Boyer’s works in the exhibit are conversations between the artist and her grandmothers. The pieces “Meeting Grans Over Tea and Bangs Nowananikkwee, Marguerite, Rosalie, Emilie, Mary” and “Carry the Horizon With You” both honour the accomplishments of her grandmothers “in the spaces they were given.”
The series of tea towels draped against the wall in her “Meeting Grans Over Tea” piece brings the domestic space of the kitchen into the gallery space.
Shifting gears, Dayna Danger’s “Breathe Out” may be the most striking piece. A local two-spirit, queer artist, Danger’s use of an elicit sadomasochistic image that features beadwork explores the dynamics between sexuality, gender, feminist power and consent, blurring the lines between empowerment and objectification.
“Breathe Out” is a doorway into her world, a place not for the faint of heart.
Proceed with caution, but proceed nonetheless.
Georgeson-Usher and asinnajaq’s collective pieces honouring each other, creating a dialogue between the interconnectivity of traditional art, round out the exhibition — each piece beautiful to gaze upon.
At the end of the exhibit, you begin to realize that the palpable silence gives way to a deep sense of self-reflection on what our own personal histories are as we walk upon the land, and how we will be remembered.
With its limited run coming to an end, it is an exhibit not to be missed.
May the Land Remember You As You Walk Upon Its Surface runs until Feb. 29. Admission to the gallery is free.