Category Archives: News and Events

The Unstoppable AGP Looks Back on Fall, 2020

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By Perrin Grauer | filed in Faculty, Staff, Students, Alumni, Aboriginal Gathering Place, Community Collaboration, Industry Collaboration

Posted on December 14, 2020

Connie Watts reflects on learning and community-building at the AGP throughout an extraordinary semester.

“It’s like the little engine that could,” Connie Watts, Associate Director of Aboriginal Programs at Emily Carr University, wrote to me in an email at the start of December.

Connie was reflecting on the strength of the Aboriginal Gathering Place’s programming in a year that was anything but straightforward. She and her colleagues — Brenda Crabtree, Director of Aboriginal Programs and Special Advisor to the President on Indigenous Initiatives, Aboriginal Program Coordinator Angela Marston and Sydney Pickering, AGP lead researcher — have good reason to feel a kinship with the unstoppable blue locomotive that hauled an impossible weight up a mountain. The diverse range of programming the AGP managed to deliver despite the pandemic is almost unbelievable.

With recent reports that a vaccine is on its way, Connie said she and her colleagues are looking forward to a year that may see in-person gatherings once again. But, she adds, even if things stay as they’ve been the past nine months, “we will take advantage of anything we can to make sure our community is being engaged.”

With Connie’s boundless strength and optimism as our guide, let’s take a brief journey back through the AGP’s fall term.

All photos are by Connie Watts; courtesy of Connie Watts and the Aboriginal Gathering Place.

Fibreshed Workshops

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Three workshops in 2020 were held at the AGP as part of the Shumka Centre for Creative Entrepreneurship’s Fibreshed Field School initiative.

“Led by Emily Smith, Fibreshed Field School is an experiential mentorship program that investigates ecologically sensitive and economically viable methods of local textile production,” the Shumka Centre writes.

Brenda taught the first AGP Fibreshed workshop, treating participants to a lesson on cedar basket weaving (a technique which is part of Brenda’s own material practice).

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Janey Chang taught the second class — a tutorial on how to tan fish skins into supple leather. Some of Janey’s fish skins were included in the Material Practice Wellness Kits the AGP sent to students during lockdown.

Full article by Perrin Grauer: https://www.ecuad.ca/news/2020/agp-looks-back-2020

Sydney Pickering on Tanning Hides, Rekindling Connections and Learning from the AGP’s Changemakers

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By Perrin Grauer | filed in Staff, Students, Aboriginal Gathering Place, Research

Posted on December 03, 2020 | Updated December 03, 2020, 9:26AM

The Aboriginal Gathering Place provides a ‘home away from home’ for Indigenous students, says the artist and ECU student.

Sydney Pickering, artist, researcher, activist, family archivist and community advocate, whose work both defines and defies each of these titles, sits in the Aboriginal Gathering Place (AGP) midmorning on a rainy Tuesday.

The AGP is quiet, though working steadily in each of its three offices, just behind Sydney’s chair, are the women who run Aboriginal Programs and provide access to culturally specific learning for Indigenous students at Emily Carr University: Brenda Crabtree, Director of Aboriginal Programs and Special Advisor to the President on Indigenous Initiatives; Connie Watts, Associate Director of Aboriginal Programs; and Angela Marston, who recently joined the team as Aboriginal Program Coordinator.

Technically a transplant from the prairies, Sydney is Vancouver Island-born, and a once-distant daughter of the Coast Mountains, now returned. Currently in the final stages of her undergraduate degree at Emily Carr, she was recently hired on as a paid researcher for the AGP. And while her work in that role has kept her plenty busy, she’s been keenly observing everyone around her.

“It’s been really humbling to see how they work and make changes happen — changes that I didn’t think were happening before,” she says of Brenda, Connie and Angela. “It’s been really eye-opening to learn from them, to just sit here, listening, watching.”

Full article by Perrin Grauer: https://www.ecuad.ca/news/2020/sydney-pickering-tanning-hides-rekindling-connections-learning-changemakers-agp

Lou-ann Neel Wins Fulmer Award in First Nations Art

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By Perrin Grauer | filed in Art, Staff, Alumni, Aboriginal Gathering Place, Awards

Posted on November 26, 2020

The accomplished, multidisciplinary artist, designer and curator comes from a family of renowned Kwakwaka’wakw artists.

Artist, designer, curator and community advocate Lou-ann Neel (BFA 2015) has won a Fulmer Award in First Nations Art from the BC Achievement Foundation (BCAF).

Lou-ann, who comes from a family of renowned Kwakwaka’wakw artists including Charlie James, Mungo Martin, Ellen Neel and Kevin Cranmer, told Victoria News she grew up viewing creative work as something a person simply did, rather than as a calling to a life of exception.

“I just didn’t think anything I did was anything special because I’ve been surrounded by artists my whole life, and my whole thing was, I want to be as good as them. I’ve never seen myself so much as an artist,” she said.

“When I was learning to design, that’s when I realized it’s not just a great privilege to learn but it’s kind of a family obligation to continue our own family tradition.”

Lou-ann has been practicing Kwakwaka’wakw design for more than 40 years. Her practice includes working in jewelry, textiles and hides, paintings and prints, and digital applications including animation, storybook illustration and 3D printing.

“I put my work out there as a symbol and a signifier of who I am and who our people are.”

LOU-ANN NEEL

“One of Lou-ann’s first passions was carving, and she is continuing to practice the techniques she learned through an apprenticeship in wood carving with her brother, Kevin Cranmer,” the BCAF’s press release says.

Full article by Perrin Grauer: https://www.ecuad.ca/news/2020/lou-ann-neel-wins-fulmer-award-in-first-nations-art?utm_source=Communications+%7C+Emix&utm_campaign=3de8f96f15-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_Emix_Issue83_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_5cac2fd575-3de8f96f15-53672739

Towards an Ecology of Place

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By Perrin Grauer | filed in Art, Faculty, Alumni, Community Collaboration

Posted on November 24, 2020 | Updated November 25, 2020, 7:26AM

DIY brush making is part of resilient material practice, says artist and ECU faculty member Mimi Gellman

A brush-making tutorial aimed at empowering locked-down visual artists has joined a broader continuum of arts teachings emphasizing material ingenuity and self-reliance, says artist and ECU associate professor Mimi Gellman.

DIY Brush Making, begun over the summer with help from ECU graduate student Yaaz Pillay, provides video and PDF tutorials for using materials of just about any kind to create brushes with unique mark-making capabilities — a vital lesson as many artists face barriers to purchasing pricey brushes from retail outlets.

“Having to rely on art supply stores doesn’t provide the opportunity to extend our abilities to problem solve, be creative and more self-reliant,” Mimi says.

“The thing that I get so excited about is how nimble we can be in the face of obstacles. At this moment, when everything seems to be closing down and we have less of the access we’re accustomed to, in what ways might we have more of a different kind of access? What possibilities are opened up?”

Full article by Perrin Grauer: https://www.ecuad.ca/news/2020/toward-an-ecology-of-place

Leadership Profile | Brenda Crabtree

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By Perrin Grauer | filed in Faculty, Staff, Aboriginal Gathering Place

Posted on February 21, 2020 | Updated February 26, 2020, 9:53AM

The director of the Aboriginal Gathering Place and Special Advisor to the President on Indigenous Initiatives at ECU is also an accomplished artist, curator, mentor, community facilitator and cultural consultant.

Ask Brenda Crabtree about any part of her many practices, and her answer will inevitably turn to community, history, politics or pedagogy.

This isn’t deflection. As a rule, Brenda focuses simultaneously on both what is directly in front of her, and what’s going on all around her.

“For me, it’s all about community outreach,” Brenda says. This priority can be seen as a throughline that connects her own material, artistic practice with her work as a curator, mentor, cultural consultant, educator, director of the Aboriginal Gathering Place and most recently, with her appointment to Special Advisor to the President on Indigenous Initiatives at Emily Carr University.

“The sharing and the transfer of cultural knowledge, I learned that from my grandmother,” Brenda says. “And I know how important education is. Even though traditional knowledge is relevant, we live between these worlds of traditional knowledge and contemporary knowledge.”

She notes she was the first person in her family to get a university degree.

“It was a really big deal,” she says. “So, I really see education as being a huge component in being able to live my life the way I want to live it, and being able to share, learn, make connections …”

Indeed, in 2016, Brenda was honoured by the BC Achievement Foundation as an enduring champion for Indigenous artists, and has been a key figure in developing groundbreaking programs such as Decolonizing the Healthcare System through Cultural Connections, the Urban Access to Aboriginal Art Project, and the Aboriginal Canadian Entrepreneurs artist residency.

Full article by Perrin Grauer: https://www.ecuad.ca/news/2020/leadership-profile-brenda-crabtree

Esteban Pérez Wins Audain Travel Award for Time-Based Work, ‘The Earth Project’

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By Perrin Grauer | filed in Art, Students, Awards

Posted on October 26, 2020 | Updated October 26, 2020, 9:11AM

The artist and MFA student says he is “very grateful” to be recognized for his work.

Artist and Emily Carr University MFA student Esteban Pérez was recently awarded the prestigious 2020 Audain Travel Award.

The Ecuadorian-born artist says he’d applied to Emily Carr’s graduate program as a painter, but quickly became interested in other forms, including performance and sound art, as he learned more about his new home in Vancouver.

“To move here, I had to apply for a visa,” Esteban recalls, sitting in his studio on the fourth floor of ECU’s campus.

Esteban had always been interested in what he describes as the arbitrary ideological constructs that shape human experience — borders, for instance, are only lines on a map, he says. And yet the ideological and social constraints that insist on a difference between North and South America, he adds, materialized during his visa application process in real and challenging ways.

“It’s a very long process. I had to show that I have the money to pay for university, I had to take an HIV test. I found the process exasperating. There’s a power relationship, and as a result you have to ask for permission to enter.”

As he reflected on his move from home to the so-called ‘first world,’ he formulated an idea for a time-based, performative work: he would “steal” land from Canada in the form of raw earth, and send it back to Ecuador, where Ecuadorian people could access it without having to undergo the same demeaning screening process he’d endured.

But he quickly realized there was a great deal of history he’d not yet learned.

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“When I first moved here and started coming to Emily Carr, people were doing a ‘land acknowledgement,’ which was a new experience for me,” he says, noting that while Ecuador, like Canada, has a history of colonization, the country’s “social narrative” about that history is very different.

“I contacted Connie Watts at the Aboriginal Gathering Place, because I didn’t know what these words meant — ‘First Nations,’ ‘unceded territory’ — and they were repeating these words in every class, in books we were reading. So, I asked.”

That one question would lead Esteban to create a series of performance works, including the one entitled, The Earth Project, which would ultimately earn him the Audain Travel Award.

Connie put Esteban in touch Squamish Nation artist Aaron Nelson-Moody, also known as ‘Splash,’ who lives and works in Capilano Village, on the North Shore.

“Splash taught me a lot about the history of Indigenous peoples here in Canada, how they were put onto reserves; he showed me his ID card. I didn’t know about that, and I was learning a lot,” he says.

Full article by Perrin Grauer: https://www.ecuad.ca/news/2020/esteban-pérez-wins-audain-travel-award-for-time-based-work-the-earth-project

Sonny Assu, Annie Briard Featured in New Limited-Edition Book

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By Perrin Grauer | filed in Art, Faculty, Alumni

Posted on October 05, 2020

The artists and ECU alums are included in the bilingual hardcover presenting conversations between authors and visual artists.

Artists Sonny Assu (BFA 2002) and Annie Briard (MFA 2013) are part of a new limited-edition bilingual book project, spearheaded by artists Jérôme Baco and Michèle Smolkin.

The book, entitled Conversations: Language and Propaganda (Conversations: Langue et Propagande), brings together artworks and texts from four pairs of authors and visual artists around topics including disinformation, propaganda, the persuasive power of language, and the role of the arts and artists in providing space for critique and critical inquiry.

“Because of social media, anonymity and easy access to a large audience, language and propaganda have taken a leading place in our society,” reads the book’s press release. “Each segment of the population accuses another of manipulation, misuse of language, wearing rose-tinted glasses or scaremongering… Everyone has to make … big efforts to sift through the overwhelming amount of information that they receive daily to decide what is propaganda what is not, what is behind the language used, what word is loaded of implied meaning.”

Art offers “a necessary distance to the public, helping them to question their beliefs, and [providing] a catalyst for critical thinking,” the statement continues. The advent of COVID-19, as well as a year of historic protests against entrenched and ongoing systems of racist sociopolitical orders and the violence which supports them have foregrounded the necessity of such conversations, the statement contends, making the book’s publication especially timely.

Full article by Perrin Grauer: https://www.ecuad.ca/news/2020/sonny-assu-annie-briard-featured-in-new-limited-edition-book

Lindsay McIntyre Solo Show Featured as Part of Capture Photo Fest

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By Perrin Grauer | filed in Faculty

Posted on April 21, 2020 | Updated April 27, 2020, 5:00PM

The exhibition features outtakes from Lindsay’s films, mounted into lightboxes.

New work by Lindsay McIntyre, film artist and Assistant Professor of Film + Screen Arts at Emily Carr University, is currently collected in a solo exhibition at Marion Scott Gallery, in partnership with Capture Photography Festival.

The show, entitled Lindsay McIntyre: the tool of the tools, features outtakes from Lindsay’s films, mounted into lightboxes.

“Hands are the tool of tools,” Lindsay says in her exhibition statement.

“They represent work and time. They tell stories. They are the record of our lives. They represent guilt and things unsaid. They dismiss, threaten, summon, feed, and signal friendship and love. They are how a mother shows love to her child.”

Lindsay, who is of Inuk/settler Scottish descent, draws a line between her ongoing formal inquiries, and the particular resonance her subject holds for Inuit communities and individuals.

“For Inuit, hands and the tools they make have always been a concrete part of life,” she continues, noting how her formal concerns as a filmmaker work in concert with that textual focus.

Full article by Perrin Grauer: https://www.ecuad.ca/news/2020/lindsay-mcintyre-solo-show-featured-as-part-of-capture-photo-fest

Nova Weipert Named the VPL’s 2020 Indigenous Storyteller in Residence

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By Perrin Grauer | filed in Art, Alumni

Posted on March 12, 2020 | Updated March 19, 2020, 1:44PM

Nova is planning a series of public events around current issues facing Indigenous communities, the Two-Spirit journey and gender expression and identity.

Interdisciplinary artist Nova Weipert (BFA 2019) has been named the Vancouver Public Library’s 2020 Indigenous Storyteller in Residence.

The latest addition to Nova’s filmmaking practice — which includes filming, editing and designing sound — is the film project “Leaving Earth,” which was nominated for the President’s Media Choice Award for its “sweeping and immersive soundscapes and imagery.”

Currently, Nova is working on a documentary film series about their recent coming-out as Two-Spirit, and the transition from female to Two-Spirit. According to the VPL, the series will “follow Weipert’s process of decolonization by using moving images, sound and storytelling as a means of understanding their Indigenous identity.” The project is likewise steeped in research about Indigenous history, culture and gender identities.

Speaking with the CBC, Nova recounted how learning about the term “Two-Spirit” had itself been a process of decolonization.

“Realizing that Two-Spirited people were, like, revered as medicine men or women or as very spiritual people or leaders or educators, and then seeing that … it [resonated] with me,” they told the CBC.

In a statement, Nova further expressed their excitement at being able to generate greater public awareness of Indigenous ways of knowing, particularly in regards to their individual experience of becoming Two-Spirit.

Full article by Perrin Grauer: https://www.ecuad.ca/news/2020/nova-weipert-named-the-vpls-2020-indigenous-storyteller-in-residence

Gina Adams Talks Colonial Erasure in Sports in ‘Art & Object’

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By Perrin Grauer | filed in Art, Faculty

Posted on February 26, 2020 | Updated February 26, 2020, 9:28AM

The artist and ECU assistant professor weighs in on counteracting the assimilative power of basketball.

Artist and Emily Carr University assistant professor Gina Adams recently spoke to Art & Object magazine about how art can confront issues of erasure and colonialism in popular culture — namely, in the globally popular sport of basketball.

In the article, Gina notes how becoming a basketball player in the NBA has a way of automatically assimilating an individual in the eyes of the public, regardless of their place of origin.

“They are seen as All American,” she says in the article. “This is extremely important [because] though there are many native and mixed Indigenous players, the actual count of Indigeneity …has never been counted by the NCAA or NBA.”

Gina’s own body of work, Honoring Modern Unidentified, takes this concern as its starting point.

The series of ceramic encaustic-coated molds of NBA regulation balls were created immediately following an intense period of research around photographs of unidentified Indigenous people, taken during the years the treaties between the U.S government and Native American tribes were first being drawn up.

Full article by Perrin Grauer: https://www.ecuad.ca/news/2020/gina-adams-talks-colonial-erasure-in-sports-in-art-object