Earthlings: Beginning With Kinngait: Riding Light into the World

This post…another case of not responding to events in a particularly expedient fashion.  Some days ago, I began to respond to two films that I had viewed at the Esker Foundation.  A lot has happened since.

I made the decision not to attend the opening of Earthlings, as has become my typical pattern, given the huge and disquieting nature of ‘openings’, in general.  I’ve come to accept this in myself. Openings are only disquieting for me in so far as I can not find my way through the many conversations that merely brush over the surface of life and art and being, instead of immersing into the depths of it all.  There is hardly an opportunity to wrap it all up in my arms and swing it in circles.  And so, I wait for those days when galleries are quiet and the works are entirely ‘exposed’.

To begin…

Take a look at the Esker programs and take advantage of the easy registration option.     On February 9, there were two screenings, the first, Kinngait: Riding Light into the World and the second, Ghost Noise.  Both were exceptional. My exposure to Inuit art was limited to a small calendar that I purchased back in the 1970s. I traveled to Lethbridge from Great Falls, Montana in 1973. The first person I met on the steps of the University of Lethbridge was Richard Nerysoo.  Quite out of his element, he was being sponsored to come from the far north for his education in Southern Alberta, of all places.  I bonded to him immediately, given my loneliness for my own nuclear family that had, once again, moved east.

Lethbridge was a good place for people who wished to learn about Indigenous cultures and the University, itself, was introducing innovative programming based on insights from the elders of the regions that surrounded it.  Built on the edge of the Old Man river, I felt as though I was living in a very spiritual and inspiring place, geographically, aesthetically and spiritually.  So, it was during the ’70s, that I first became hungry for knowledge about Canada’s indigenous peoples.

Earthlings at the Esker Foundation creates visual bridges between artistic practices of the contemporary north and south, through the innate creative force of individual artists, as well as through collaborative exchange.  A powerful exhibit, the art works reach far beyond the notions of tradition and realism, and move into various contexts; collaboration, dreamscape, mythology and personal narrative.  Profound and heart-achingly beautiful, one really needs to see these works ‘in the skin’.  Produced by Roger Aksadjuak, Shuvinai Shoona, Pierre Aupilardjuk, Jessie Kenalogak, John Kurok and Leo Napayok, the art objects are both challenging and simple; joy filled and painful.  Creative, Shary Boyle, is phenomenal in her ability to create ‘bridge art’ and to have manifested such vision in this extraordinary experience of the visual world and the spiritual world.

It is apparent that this exhibit is an opener for me to learn about art and artistic practice and artists of Rankin Inlet, Matchbox Studios, Baker Lake, Cape Dorset and Toronto.  I will be responding to various tours and programs connected to the exhibit.  Most recently, Shauna Thompson conducted a thorough and enjoyable tour titled Cooked Earth and Ghost Noise, taking the participants through the entire gallery, addressing the various processes involved in the making.

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