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Sponsored / March 15, 2021

The Power of Observation and Reaction

Caroline Monnet explains how residing and reflecting between cultures has shaped her artistic expression in this video profile from the RBC Emerging Artists Project series From Within

At RBC, we are steadfast in our commitment to helping recognize and celebrate emerging Canadian talent. The RBC Emerging Artists Project works specifically to bridge the gap between emerging and established by strengthening artists’ access to professional networks, mentorship and training, and providing them with exposure to new and diverse audiences. We are thrilled to share our video series From Within, a reflection on artistic inspiration and practice, featuring five talented artists who create conceptually rigorous and visually stunning work. Each of these artists recognizes the power of art not only as a medium for self-expression, but also as a powerful tool for addressing complex social issues, encouraging open dialogue and inspiring new perspectives.

Caroline Monnet’s distinctive visual style is both conceptually complex and aesthetically minimal. Tending toward the use of industrial materials, but also working in film and photography, she addresses themes of identity and territory in relation to her Algonquin Anishinaabe origins. Monnet retraces these roots to portray Indigenous history as an evolving and dynamic negotiation between the traditional and the modern. Her practice underscores the resilience of her people and resists a history of displacement and attempted erasure through her commitment to innovation and experimentation. Recently, Monnet has turned her focus to the housing crisis faced by many Northern Indigenous communities. The high cost of construction materials in these more remote regions, coupled with poor civic planning and lack of vision from the Canadian government, has resulted in the construction of generic housing that is impractical and out of place, and which bears no resemblance to traditional Indigenous dwellings. Monnet’s 2020 exhibition “R-Value” called attention to this housing crisis with conceptual artworks that combine traditional motifs with domestic building materials such as Styrofoam, wood and insulation. These hybrid works speak to issues of access and isolation, but also remind us that our homes function spiritually as well as practically, as extensions of our bodies, and that insufficient housing threatens our physical and emotional well-being. Monnet finds poetry in the question of home by developing a visual language originating from her ancestors, her living community and herself.