Shaun Beyale, The Time Traveler, ink, gray Copic marker, and white Gellyroll pen on paper, 2015, courtesy of the artist
Artists: Joi T. Arcand, Sonny Assu, Julianne Beaudin-Herney, Shaun Beyale, Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, and Jeffrey Veregge
Curator: Leena Minifie
Organized by: Dunlop Art Gallery, Regina Public Library
Opening reception: January 26, 5:30 PM
Where: OAG Annex, City Hall, 110 Laurier Avenue West, Ottawa, ON, K1P 1J1
When: Open daily 9 AM to 8 PM
Free admission. Wheelchair accessible. Parking available.
For more information: 613-233-8699 x234, firstname.lastname@example.org
Taking its title from a Sonny Assu button blanket depicting Spiderman in a traditional Kwakwa̱ka̱’wakw style, When Raven Became Spider is guest curated by Vancouver-based Gitxaala/British, curator, artist and writer Leena Minifie. Minifie’s research examines supernatural characters in Indigenous art and modern comic superheroes. She notes that traditional stories often highlight figures with superheroic traits, but that these figures maintain complexity as they are fallible, and capable of making mistakes. Most pop comic icons lean towards the archetypal, exhibiting simplified ways of being; they are good or evil. This generation of Indigenous artists and storytellers are increasingly depicting modern super-beings and using pop icon images within their work, blurring the line between oral stories and modern comics. Their aesthetics, style, and composition flow between both worlds.
Does the use of these modern-day images generate a space for oral narratives related to super beings? Or does it reduce these characters into one-dimensional archetypes? Does this work make stories more accessible and palatable to audiences and listeners, who may not be familiar with storytelling traditions? Do modernized forms sacrifice a certain degree of the three-dimensionality and nuance of the characters they depict? Can these characters still transmit old-world, oratory tales and teach us something about the frail human condition, as they were intended?
When Raven Became Spider grapples with such questions.