By Lori Beavis
By Lori Beavis
zhigwe / aim is a multi-week project initiated by Lori Beavis, P. Lantz artist in residence, that seeks to introduce contemporary Indigenous artists and their art work to the students, faculty and staff.
The word zhigwe (su-i (flat i)-gwe) is the Anishinaabe word for aim. It is an appropriate choice on two levels, the first being that in the act of aiming your smartphone at the QR code, information will be revealed about the image. The second is, the aim of this project is to ask – Can learning about the social and political issues these Indigenous artists are examining educate us as educators? Can knowledge of contemporary artists and their art contribute to reconciliation? Will this knowledge help us move forward in reconciliation and build “capacity for intercultural understanding, empathy, and mutual respect”? (TRC Calls for Action (2015) p. 7, #63.iii)
Art by artists, Shelley Niro, Adrian Stimson, Barry Pottle, Lori Blondeau, Kent Monkman, Barry Ace, David Garneau, Nadia Myre has been chosen because they are all working with material and subjects that create awareness of the Indigenous experience in Canada. Their work is also very accessible in terms of the subject matter and eye-catching images. The viewer may also have an emotional response to the work. Art is often a way to say the unsayable – it can tell stories about family histories, knowledge and experiences and it can often open the space to have a public discussion about difficult and challenging subjects.
These images also speak to the notion of self-representation and this is important because the artists have a story to tell about Canada as a colonial space from an Indigenous perspective. The stories are important and may in some ways act as a form of activism as the information is dispersed.
The images of the art works will be displayed alongside a QR Code (Quick Response Code). When the square of black & white code is scanned further information about the artist and the object will be available. The code can be captured with your smartphone camera. To be able to read QR codes, you need to download a free QR Reader app, such as Quick Scan, https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/quick-scan-qr-code-reader/id483336864?mt=8
For more information follow these links:
and on McGill Faculty of Education Facebook page:
or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Lori Beavis
Using the idea of grandmothers as teachers and memory holders I am exploring the idea of presence. I am asking people to come and join me at the Art Hive and bring one of their grandmother’s recipes. This might be a recipe that they made with their grandmother or one that she made for you. At the same time we will share the memories of our grandmothers and of cooking with her. The recipes will be left as a permanent marker of on-going presence.
Presence: the Grandmothers – I have taken the idea of the grandmothers as holders of memories. The stones that heat the Ojibway sweat lodge are often named as grandfather of grandmother. In Anishinaabe culture the grandmothers are the knowledge holders of language, customs and beliefs.
For this project I am thinking about the idea of the vestiges or remains of our heritages and of our identity and through this to how we self-identify. I also want to examine the idea of presence. How do we know or what do we know about the past from what we can see today, in the present? What did our grandmother tell us about our family heritage? How do we hold the knowledge of the past and keep the vestiges of what went before? Whose presence guides or informs us? What are the vestiges of our past family generations – in our lives? on the land?
To help answer some of these questions and establish a presence and an on-going presence (hidden or partially seen/known of). I am asking people to share memories of their grandmothers, as these memories are usually very tangible and immediate. One way of coming to these memories is by asking people to use their memories of cooking with their grandmothers as a way to enter into knowing who we are. I have started with recipes that I remember from my life with my grandmother, Laura Hannah Cowie Jones, a Mississauga woman from Rice Lake Ontario.
I am asking people to come and join me at the Art Hive and bring one of their grandmother’s recipes. This might be a recipe that they made with their grandmother or one that she made for you. At the same time we will share the memories of our grandmothers and of cooking with her. The recipes will be written on the wall of the studio space.
In time the wall will be covered up but I think this adds another layer to the idea of presence and ultimately, identities and how they move and change over time – but the knowledge that your grandmother gave you about who you are stays with you and there is always some hidden presence left.
By Lori Beavis
My objective in intervening in the Freire cabinet was to pose a number of questions. I have not specifically answered these questions in an academic manner but I have provided materials (book jackets, quotes and other bibliographic materials) to suggest a starting point for a discussion. I also made paper jingles (acknowledging Maria Huppfield) from old books hung from threads that indicate the four directions.
Is there a connection between Indigenous experiences and Freire?
Is there a connection between Freire and Indigenous experiences of Residential Schools?
What is literacy?
What does literacy look like in a Euro-western understanding and in Indigenous culture?
How does literacy impact/ limit community development?
What are the emblems of literacy? -> pens/ pencils/ books – signatures
What about literacy and the signed treaties? – Literacy/identity -> signatures versus dodems
What does cultural knowledge look like?
What is emblematic of an oral tradition?
Did the Residential Schools teach literacy?
What else did the Residential schools teach?
What did the Residential schools take away from the students?
This project was made in collaboration with the Social Equity and Diversity Education (SEDE), McGill.
With this exercise we collaboratively explored the relationship between formal education and other kind of local pedagogies and personal ways of knowing.
Outreach Mural Project
Learning from creative workshops with youth and professionals
Last year as part of my residency, the P. Lantz Initiative for Excellence in Education and the Arts, faculty from McGill’s Department of Education approached me to design a collaborative mural project for local artists and Montreal youth. Its objective was to build on existing connections between McGill and other educational sites, develop a learning experience for the participants involved, and create a more lively and colorful environment in the lobby of the education building (3700 McTavish).
The idea behind the visual was to create a work of art inspired by graffiti, street art and pop surrealism. We wanted to design a strong imagery and a compelling vibrant visual work using a mix of typography, organic delicate lines and an abstract arrangement mixed with bold strokes and a flowing colourful palette.
Under the creative supervision of myself and François Léandre, 7 talented artists committed themselves over a span of 6 weeks (twice a week) to the project: Ariella Racco, Galit Sandeav, Aquil Virani, Chloe Rowan, Michelle Harazny and Maria Ezcurra from McGill (D.I.S.E), Saphir Voyer from Vedun, Emmanuel Akintade from Dawson College,Tatiana Liz Rivera from John Abbott College, Kaiya Gulston from Vanguard School and Alexandre Cambron from le Programme Graffiti Lachine.
I am thankful for the artistic liberty that the McGill Department of Education and the P. Lantz Initiative for Excellence in Education and the Arts allowed for this project. I would also like to thank the Department of Integrated Studies in the Arts for helping with the logistic and details.
MY BODY IS THE OCEAN
An exhibition by Kama La Mackerel
Artist in Residence
P. Lantz Initiative for Excellence in Education and the Arts
May 3 – 17, 2017
Curriculum Resources Centre (1st floor)
Faculty of Education
VERNISSAGE + PERFORMANCE
May 4, 2017
The building is wheelchair accessible from the side entrance (north side of the building) where there are automatic doors. Wheelchair users can come through the Peel Street side of the building (3699 Peel St). The McTavish side is not accessible at the moment because of road construction.
For the past 8 months, multi-disciplinary artist and arts facilitator, Kama La Mackerel, has been in residence at the Faculty of Education at McGill University. During this time, Kama has worked on several creative and research projects each exploring the potential of artistic practices as resistance to colonial violence.
Amongst others, Kama has designed a series of 3 arts-based anti-oppression training workshops that she ran amongst students; she conceived and performed a 3-hour durational piece, UN/FREEZE, to engage with the ongoing trauma of microaggressions in institutions of learning; she curated SPEAK B(L)ACK, an all-Black performance night as part of Black History Month; she curated and hosted her annual QTBIPOC community show, The Self-Love Cabaret: l’amour se conjugue à la première personne; she developed the manuscript for her upcoming spoken-word one-woman show, also the title of her poetry collection, My Body Is the Ocean; she painted a series of water-colours inspired by poetic imagery from My Body Is The Ocean; she reclaimed public spaces through trans-positive affirmations through her textile installation Remember Trans Power; she worked on an audio-visual series on decolonization (in FR, with ENG subtitles) in collaboration with Le Délit, and she wrote a bunch of articles & spoke at galleries, universities and community dinners (audio recordings from some of these talks will soon be digitally released!)
Through this exhibition, you are invited to engage with some of the material developed by Kama during the course of this residency.
LIST OF WORK PRESENTED:
My Body Is the Ocean (performance: May 4, 6:30-7:30pm)
My Body Is the Ocean (series: water colour)
Remember Trans Power (series: textiles, acrylic)
UN/FREEZE (installation: textiles, paper, metal wires)
Bois d’Ébène (installation: textiles, paper, metal)
Kama La Mackerel is a tio’tia:ke/Montreal-based performer, writer, poet, story-teller, curator and multi-disciplinary artist whose work explores aesthetic practices as forms of resistance and/or healing for marginalized communities. Using photography, poetry, textiles, performance and digital arts, Kama’s work is both deeply personal and political, articulating an anti-colonial praxis through cultural production. Kama is the co-founder of Qouleur, an annual arts festival and healing space by and for queer and trans artists of colour, and the founder & hostess of GENDER B(L)ENDER, Montréal’s monthly queer open stage. Kama was born in Mauritius, immigrated to India as a young adult, and has been living in tio’tia:ke/Montréal since 2012. Kama is presently working on her new one-woman spoken-word show, also the title of her upcoming poetry collection My Body Is the Ocean.
DESCRIPTION OF WORK PRESENTED:
My Body Is the Ocean – new performances from the one-woman show.
May 4, 6:30-7:30pm
My Body Is the Ocean is a collection of lyric poems that braid together voices across lineages of Mauritian women, femmes, spirits and goddesses. Seeking healing from the trauma of plantation heritage, Kama La Mackerel uses her poetry to find new languages of love with which to repair the severed relationships of her family and her ancestries. Oscillating like waves between ocean & island, past & present, childhood & adulthood, rage & forgiveness, family history & colonial history, My Body Is the Ocean is a painful yet celebratory journey into a trans femme identity that refuses to be defined and confined to colonial gender narratives.
WATER COLOUR SERIES
My Body Is the Ocean is an aquarelle series that explores imagery from Kama La Mackerel’s poetry collection through water-colour. Through this series, the artist attempts to find “languages without words” with which to articulate the unnameable haunting of colonial pain and the ancestral longings for love & reconciliation.
Remember Trans Power is a textile installation that reclaims public spaces through trans-positive affirmations. The series is painted on long stretches of silk that used to be saris that belonged to the artist’s mother: she wore them for years and then gifted them to the artist. This offering of femme clothing, from mother to daughter, was a moment of reconciliation that gestured at forgiveness after three decades of gendered violence.
In this series, Kama La Mackerel paints short, trans-positive affirmations on these saris, a couple of which have also acted as banners in the Montréal trans march. This series merges the personal into the political, it folds the public into the private: the banners occupy public space while holding the fabric of deeply personal acts of love & forgiveness.
The affirmations are kept simple and to the point, as a choice: in a contemporary context where the mainstream media sets the agenda for “the trans tipping point” discussions are often clouded with unnecessary debate while the message, for Kama La Mackerel is rather clear: PROTECT TRANS YOUTH. HONOUR TRANS ELDERS. LOVE FOR TRANS WOMEN OF COLOUR. REMEMBER TRANS POWER. CELEBRATE TRANS HISTORY.
UN/FREEZE is a 3-D installation that Kama La Mackerel created in November 2016 through an interactive 3-hour durational performance piece. UN/FREEZE explored the embodied and emotional reaction of “freezing” when experiencing a micro-aggression. By wearing chicken wires around her body to restrict her movements and very slowly moving her body through postures of discomfort, the artist instilled the hardness, pain and discomfort of the marginalized body in institutional spaces that are not safe.
The audience was invited to participate in the performance by writing testimonies of a time they experienced micro-aggressions within institutions. They rolled the testimonies and left them behind as part of the installation, which grew heavier with the stories as the performance progressed. The installation remains, beyond the performance, reminiscent of the ways that the trauma of micro-aggressions can inhabit marginalized bodies for long after their occurence.
Bois d’Ébène is both a 3-D piece and a wearable garment, made of left-over material traces from two performances. In August 2012, Kama La Mackerel performed “WHAT YOU LOOKING AT?” at La Centrale, Galerie Powerhouse (Montreal, QC). In this durational and interactive performance piece, she explored the figure of the fleur-de-lys to interrogate the ways in which trans and gender non-conforming bodies of colour are surveilled through racist, trans misogynist and nationalist gazes. In August 2016, she performed “Bois d’Ébène” at Fonderie Darling (Montreal, QC). In this piece she engages with Québec’s Slave history by grieving and conjuring the voices of the Slave ancestors on whose broken backs the modern nation was built. As part of these performances, the artist used paper cut-outs of fleur-de-lys as well as fabric cut-outs in shape of the map of Quebec. Bois d’Ébène is a femme armour made of the left-over cut-outs and other material from these performances. With this installation, Kama La Mackerel uses deconstruction as an aesthetic to critique nationalist discourses and to point to the fallacy of universalism and singular narratives characteric of nationalisms. (Bois d’Ébène is a piece from Kama La Mackerel’s From Thick Skin to Femme Armour project: http://femme-armour.tumblr.com/)
We started off the film series in Hallowe’en week with Rhymes for Young Ghouls, a film by Jeff Barnaby (2013, 88 min.). It is a fictional film set in 1976 on the Red Crow Mi’gMaq reservation. The story is based on the government decree, in which every Indian child under the age of 18 must attend residential school. In the kingdom of the Crow, that means imprisonment at the fictional residential school, St. Dymphna’s. The sadistic Indian agent, Popper runs the school. At fifteen, the movie’s heroine, Aila is the weed princess of Red Crow. Hustling with her uncle Burner, she sells enough dope to pay Popper her truancy tax, keeping her out of St. Dymphna’s. But when Aila’s drug money is stolen and her father Joseph returns from prison, the precarious balance of Aila’s world is destroyed. Her only options are to run or fight and Mi’gMaq don’t run.
(Rhymes for Young Ghouls, Poster, 2013)
I encourage people to read the very informative blog post discussing the film at https://decolonization.wordpress.com/2014/10/24/on-violence-and-vengeance-rhymes-for-young-ghouls-and-the-horrific-history-of-canadas-indian-residential-schools/
Through the month of November we screened three Shelley Niro films, Robert’s Painting (2011, 52 min.), Kissed by Lightning (2009, 89 min.) and Honey Moccasin (1998, 47 min. b/w). Shelley Niro (Mohawk) is a photographer, painter, sculptor, bead worker, multimedia artist, and independent filmmaker. She is a member of the Turtle Clan at Six Nations of the Grand River, Ontario. Niro’s work has been shown across Canada, the USA and internationally.
Robert’s Paintings (2011), is a film about the painter Robert Houle, a Saulteaux artist, curator, critic, and educator. He has had an active curatorial and artistic practice since the mid-1970s. Like many of his generation, Houle was schooled in the residential school system. In the film, he expressively talks about his experiences at the school. In recent years he created a body of work encapsulating his memories from childhood. As an adult and teacher, he used this opportunity to give witness to his life and the many others who passed through the corridors of what is now known as Canada’s shame. In the film we meet friends and family who share stories about Robert and what his paintings mean to them. This film is about not forgetting and contributing to the collective memory of a nation. In its own way it is a celebration.
(Kissed by Lightning, 2009 poster) (Honey Moccasin, 1998 film still)
The feature-film, Kissed by Lightning is a remarkable tale of spiritual awakening, set in deepest winter in the woodlands of Canada. The film is multi-dimensional and multi-layered; it’s a love story symbolically based on the 14th Century Iroquois legend of Peacemaker and Hiawatha. Mavis Dogblood (Kateri Walker) is a heart-broken Mohawk painter who keeps the memory of her dead husband, Jessie Lightning (Michael Greyeyes), alive in her paintings, through the recreation of the stories he would tell her. She struggles to move on, but when an upcoming art exhibition in New York requires Mavis to embark on a road trip, she finds herself faced with the difficult task of letting go. Her journey across the border is the beginning of allowing herself to begin anew.
The third film, Honey Moccasin investigated the authenticity, cultural identity, and the articulation of modern Native American experience in cinematic language and pop culture. Niro’s all-Native production from the late 1990s was considered to be a part of the Smoke Signals wave of films that examined of Native identity from an Indigenous point of view. This film is a comedy/thriller complete with a fashion show and torchy musical numbers, this witty film employs a surreal pastiche of styles to depict the rivalry between bars The Smokin’ Moccasin and The Inukshuk Cafe, the saga of closeted drag queen/powwow clothing thief Zachary John, and the travails of crusading investigator Honey Moccasin. Honey Moccasin is set on the Grand Pine Indian Reservation, aka “Reservation X”. The film combines elements of melodrama, performance art, cable access, and ‘whodunit’ to question conventions of ethnic and sexual identity as well as film narrative. It is an irreverent re-appropriation of familiar narrative strategies and Indigenous identities.
The final film of the Autumn term, was Before Tomorrow (2008, 93min.), co-directed by Marie-Helene Cousineau and Madeline Ivalu. The film was shot near Puvirnituq in Nunavik, northern Quebec. The film is an adaptation of the novel Før Morgendagen by Danish writer Jørn Riel. It was the third film released by Igloolik Isuma Productions, an Inuit film studio best known for the film Atanarjuat, and was the first feature film to be made by Arnait Video Productions, a women’s Inuit film collective.
(Before Tomorrow, 2008, poster)
In the film, two isolated families meet for a summertime celebration. Food is abundant and the future seems bright, but Ningiuq, a wise old woman, sees her world as fragile and moves through it with a pervasive sense of dread. As the story progresses, Ningiuq (Madeline Ivalu) and her grandson Maniq ((Paul-Dylan Ivalu) are dropped off on a remote island, where, every year, the family dries the catch and stores it for winter. The task is soon finished. As summer turns to fall, they wait in vain for the others to pick them up. Set in a small Inuit community in the Nunavik region of northern Quebec in the 1840s, the film tells the story of the loss of their community through as a result of a smallpox epidemic transmitted by strange traders.
It became apparent as we watched these films that whether documentary or fictional they each inform in their own way, ordinary human experiences. Film is unequalled in the way that it is able to capture our imagination and hold our attention. It is understood amongst film theorists that film has a unique ability to give the viewer a chance to see and understand things in a new light (forgive the pun). Perhaps it is because when the lights go off we give ourselves over to the story that the director-artist is about to tell us.
In our discussions following each film it was pointed out that the films would each in their own way be a valid resource for the classroom, because as we continue to work toward reconciliation and implementing the recommendations/ Calls to Action of the TRC into our educational experiences, film can be an entry point to education, telling the story and sharing knowledge.
The weekly Indigenous Film Series begins the Winter term on Thursday, January 26th
4-6pm, Education Building, (3700 McTavish) Rm. 233.
Film Schedule (titles subject to availability)
January 19 – * We Can’t Make the Same Mistake Twice (2016)
An NFB film by Alanis Obomsawin Showing at Cinema de Parc, 3575 Avenue du Parc 5pm Co-presented by NFB and McGill University
January 26 The People of the Kattawapiskak River (2012, NFB, Alanis Obomsawin, Dir., 78 min.)
February 2 Hi-Ho Mistahey (2013, NFB, Alanis Obomsawin, Dir., 100 min.)
February 9 Needle, Bead and Voice Yukon artist Nicole Bauberger’s video interview of Mrs. Annie Smith and Ms. Dianne Smith, two Kwanlin Dun elders, discussing artworks in the Yukon Permanent Art Collection with Nicole Bauberger. The artist will be in attendance.
February 16 Reel Injun (2009, NFB, Neil Diamond, Dir., 88 min.)
February 23 Redskins, Tricksters, and Puppy Stew (2000, NFB, Drew Hayden Taylor, Dir., 54 min.)
March 2 NO FILM – Reading Week
March 9 – Smoke Signals (1998, USA, Chris Eyre, Dir., 89 min.)
March 16 – Rabbit Proof Fence (2002, Australian, Phillip Noyse dir., 94 min.)
March 23 – Dance Me Outside (Bruce McDonald dir., 1995, 91 min.)
By Lori Beavis, Art Educator
From my perspective as an Art Educator, the four days we interacted with graduate students and campers at the various venues was invaluable. We learned much from each of the experiences. Continue reading “Cultivating Presence: McGill DISE/ Brila Camp/ McKay Day camp”
By Naomi Nichols, Assistant Professor, DISE
Throughout the Spring 2016, and thanks to a grant from the P. Lantz Initiative for Excellence in Education & the Arts, I had the tremendous good fortune to work with two experienced arts-educators (Dr. Loris Beavis and Dr. Brian Nichols) to create a two-week experiment in philosophy and the arts, which we implemented together in July, 2016. Continue reading “Cultivating Presence: Affirmative Art-making as Philosophic Practice Project Wrap”
Join DISE Artist-in-Residence Lori Beavis every Thursday, 4pm-6pm, for our Weekly Indigenous Film Series. The series will feature documentaries and feature films by Indigenous filmmakers, screened in Education Building room 233 (EDUC-233), 3700 McTavish.
By Lori Beavis, Artist in Residence
Please come to the Art Hive on Wednesday November 23rd to help me activate the space with the project Presence: the Grandmothers.
I am drawing on the idea of our grandmothers as holders of memories. In Anishinaabe culture the grandmothers are the knowledge holders in terms of language, customs and beliefs. Continue reading “Memories of Cooking with Grandmothers”
“UN/FREEZE” by Kama La Mackerel, Artist in Residence
Wednesday, Nov 23
Main Entrance (McTavish)
Faculty of Education
McGill University Continue reading “UN/FREEZE Explores Embodied and Emotional Freezing”