Awi’nagwiskasu: Real Land
Curated by Jesse Birch and Liz Park
April 21 – July 2, 2017
Nanaimo Art Gallery is pleased to present a solo exhibition by Marianne Nicolson, a Victoria BC based artist of Scottish and Dzawada̱’enux̱w First Nations descent. The Dzawada‘enuxw People are a member tribe of the Kwakwaka‘wakw Nations of the Pacific Northwest Coast. Nicolson’s work first came to prominence in 1998 when she scaled a cliff face near her ancestral village Gwa’yi to paint a 11.5 meter high by 8.5 meter wide pictographic crest symbol that shows the origin story of her people. This was the first petrograph in the region in more than sixty years, and marks the continued vitality of the Dzawada‘enuxw. Operating as a potent expression of land rights and community connections, this work anchors the exhibition Awi’nagwiskasu: Real Land.
This exhibition showcases Nicolson’s creative scope through paintings, light-installations, and video. Many of the works invite visitors to share the artist’s pressing concerns about the waters that surround and course through land, and serve as a gauge for the health of coastal communities. Rivers, inlets, harbours, and tides are points of reference throughout the exhibition. Awi’nagwiskasu: Real Land was developed in dialogue with Nanaimo, a harbour city, and hub of resource extraction and distribution on Vancouver Island.
Nicolson will also create a new public artwork on the exterior of Nanaimo Art Gallery that will be revealed at the end of the exhibition.
To highlight Nicolson’s interrelated practices as a linguist, anthropologist, and a visual artist, a new risograph print edition that compiles titles of Nicolson’s works from 1998-2016 in both English and Kwak’wala will be produced on the occasion of the exhibition.
Image: Marianne Nicolson, cliff painting in progress, Kingcome Inlet, 1998