A new art exhibit gracing the walls of Lacombe Memorial Centre (LMC) explores the connection between the land and ‘Great Mother Earth.’
As an Alberta Foundation for the Arts travelling exhibit, Dreaming with my ‘Great Mother’ features works from three First Nations artists, each whom have journeyed and received knowledge from their grandmothers and the earth.
Each canvas carefully hung on the centre’s walls showcases a narrative activated through animal spirits, symbols, nature or legends in action.
Heather Shillinglaw is a Métis artist, based out of Edmonton, who uses bead work, acrylic paint, pencil crayon and paper to create mixed media pieces that speak deeply to the viewer.
She said most of her works are inspired directly from the landscape.
“My great-grandmother was a medicine woman,” she said during the opening reception of the exhibition last week. “I look at the medicine that was carried down throughout our family and being so close to the landscape. My animal spirit is the mouse so that is why you see the superhero on all the panels.”
Shillinglaw also incorporates arrows into each panel, representing the significant four directions teachings.
“In these works the bead work tends to be more of that Métis connection,” she said. “My Cree and Dene ancestry – they were very good beaders. This is kind of my way of paying homage to those people who came before me.”
Shillinglaw said Dreaming with my ‘Great Mother’ is an ode to their grandmothers and how each artist looks back to them for knowledge.
“They are such keepers of the knowledge,” she said. “When we live that connection, we feel that we are closer to the landscape and closer to that voice of our animal spirits.”
Fellow exhibiting artist Carla Rae Taylor agrees their grandmothers’ influence can be seen in all their works.
“It’s through the legend and connection to the land and earth,” she said. “It has very much to do with the connection to the earth and listening to the stories of my people and incorporating animals.”
Growing up in Yellowknife, but now calling Edmonton home, Taylor said she’s been doing art her entire life.
“I didn’t really start doing my art formally until 2003,” she said of her artistic experience.
Taylor’s panels not only showcase vibrant colours through the use of acrylic paint, but they also each portray a story, sometimes based on a legend.
“I use a lot of colour in my pieces, with organic lines and dream-like images,” she said. “I like to fuse the dream world with figures from stories, legends or out of dreams. Quite often there are animals.”
Camille Louis is the third artist whose works are also shown in the exhibit.
The exhibit will be on display at the LMC until Feb. 24th.