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OCF exhibit highlights post-capitalist expression

M’CHIGEENG—The artworks of seven Indigenous artists are on display at the Ojibwe Cultural Foundation in M’Chigeeng as part of the ‘Aawan-e-yaawang (it is what it is): The Art of Post-Capitalist Reconciliation’ exhibition.

Co-curated by artist Michael Cywink (himself once an OCF curator) and Irish-born visual artist Dermot Wilson, the artists featured in the show include Clayton Samual King, Don Chretien, Russell Noganoah, Lisa Pitawanakwat, Santana Eshkawkogan and Mr. Cywink himself.

“When Cy suggested ‘it is what it is’ for an exhibition title three years ago, I began to think about that phrase as a kind of filter or pressure valve that these artists were consciously or unconsciously using to consider their practices and personal histories as way of relieving personal anxiety, understanding contemporary social angst and stepping back and away from post-capitalist propaganda,” said Dermot Wilson, who together with Mr. Cywink has produced the exhibition. “The artworks in this show depict views of contemporary life as it is, coloured and filtered through contemporary Indigenous visual artists’ eyes.”

“This show asks us, ‘how does society value these works and how are these depictions reflective of what ‘IT is’ in our lives today?’” notes Mr. Dermot. “Many of the artists involved, believe that ‘what IT is’ can be reflective of (and interpreted through) the Seven Grandfather teachings, and also of an ongoing and growing belief in ‘reconciliation’ as it applies to contemporary value systems, beliefs and ways of living. The ‘Lives of the Elders’ live on and are with us in the treaties they forged with settler governors/patriarchs.”

Mr. Dermont notes the largely two-dimensional artworks declare, “ironically and symbolically, the discrepancies between artistic, personal and societal values.” 

“Aawan-e-yaawang is all about how our lives are threatened by human and corporate structures such as mining, oil extraction, forestry, resource extraction and drinking water redistribution,” continues Mr. Dermot. “These works outline the new reality of for Treaty People entering the third decade of the second millennium.”

‘Aawan-e-yaawang’ is a travelling exhibit that has stopped off in North Bay and Timmins before its sojourn at the OCF. The exhibition at the OCF opened on June 10 will be moving on to the Maritimes after August 31. The OCF is open from 8:30 am to 4 pm, Monday to Friday.

Article written by

Michael Erskine
Michael Erskine
Michael Erskine BA (Hons) is a staff writer at The 㽶Ƶ Expositor. He received his honours BA from Laurentian University in 1987. His former lives include underground miner, oil rig roughneck, early childhood educator, elementary school teacher, college professor and community legal worker. Michael has written several college course manuals and has won numerous Ontario Community Newspaper Awards in the rural, business and finance and editorial categories.