Indigenous art project focuses on land and water protection

October 31, 2018 | Arts & Culture
Renowned artists Christi Belcourt and Isaac Murdoch spent three days on campus this week creating a large-scale painting (five feet tall by nine feet wide).

The painting’s future home will be in MacEwan’s new larger and enhanced kihêw waciston Indigenous Centre. The project is the first to be undertaken as part of the university’s 25-year Campus Master Plan approved by the Board of Governors in June 2018.

Terri Suntjens, MacEwan’s director of Indigenous Initiatives, says it’s essential for the new space to display art from various Indigenous artists that tells an important story and creates
additional learning opportunities for students.

“This piece will open conversations that speak to the importance of land and water protection, and our role and responsibility to take care of Mother Earth as our ancestors did before us,” she adds.

Christi, whose work explores and celebrates the beauty of the natural world, and Isaac, a respected storyteller and traditional knowledge holder, are creating paintings and murals across Canada to raise funds for language and arts-based cultural camps for Indigenous youth.

“Their art speaks to the importance of respecting the land and the reclamation of traditional ways of Indigenous peoples,” adds Terri. “Part of the university’s role in reconciliation is also supporting initiatives like this that create opportunities for these camps that are developed and taught by Indigenous elders, knowledge keepers and communities.”

About the artists

Christi is a Michif visual artist whose work is found within the permanent collections of the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Ontario, Gabriel Dumont Institute and the Canadian Museum of Civilization. In 2014 she was named Aboriginal Arts Laureate by the Ontario Arts Council.

Isaac is from the Serpent River First Nation and grew up in the traditional setting of hunting, fishing and trapping. For many years he has led various workshops and cultural camps that focuses on the transfer of knowledge to youth. His other passions include traditional Ojibway paint, symbolism, ceremonial knowledge, cultural camps and oral history. 

Inviting people, including visiting artists, to our campus lets us explore ideas and inspire conversations that aren’t always easy. Read more of what our president has to say about embracing difficult conversations.

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