What was once lost
We are so pleased to return to James Street and cultivate connections with community through public art after three years of uncertain days, but also hope. The exhibition What was once lost includes the work of artists Asli Alin, Mary Anne Barkhouse, Kiera Boult, Joseph Farrugia, Melissa General, Dawn Hackett Burns, Skawennati, Brandon Vickerd, and the All Our Relations Collective, coordinated and curated by Alex Jacobs-Blum. The material execution of these artworks realized in public space takes varied forms, including film, photography, performance, sonic works, sculpture, and mixed media installation. The stories, histories, and critical interventions expressed through the artworks reference connections to the land, home and place; identity, gentrification, urbanization and decay; climate change and care for the environment; Indigenous resurgence, futurities, and world-making; and the deep and ongoing harms of colonialism. My appreciation to the artists for telling these stories and trusting us with their art; to the members of the Advisory Committee for their wisdom; the Supercrawl team for their support of the public art program and commitment to the event; and to program partners Hamilton Artists Inc., Hamilton Regional Indian Centre and McMaster Museum of Art.
– Kristine Germann, Curator, Visual and Public Art, Supercrawl
All Our Relations, 2022. Image courtesy of Alex Jacobs-Blum
All Our Relations Collective, 2022, Digital media
Alex Jacobs-Blum, Curator and Coordinator
“We are a part of everything that is beneath us, above us, and around us. Our past is our present, our present is our future, and our future is seven generations past and present.” – Winona LaDuke (“Introduction,” All Our Relations: Native Struggles for Land and Life. Haymarket Books. 2017)
Ancestors call to us through our own reflections, recalling their connection to the land through the footsteps we take. We are embodiments of their dreams. Forging futures that white supremacy did not design for us, we are coming home to ourselves. All Our Relations is a collaborative endeavour with four urban Indigenous Artists between the ages of 14-22, co-creating short original documentaries centring their artistic practices and self-expression. The artists reflect on how land, cosmological, community and ancestor relations contribute to their art-making. All Our Relations serves a pedagogical function, offering visualities for decolonized conventions in art. All Our Relations strives to create ripples and spark creative inspiration in youth present and future. Alex would like to thank Abedar Kamgari, Kristine Germann and Vanessa Henry for their kind contributions to the project.
About the Artist
Alex Jacobs-Blum (Lower Cayuga of Six Nations/ German), is a lens-based artist and curator based in Ohròn:wakon (Hamilton, ON). Alex’s deep passion for community, relationship building, uplifting youth and challenging settler colonialism are integral to her practice and methodology. She strives to empower change by pushing boundaries to disrupt institutional spaces. Alex received a Bachelor of Photography at Sheridan College in 2015, where she was awarded the Canon Award of Excellence for Narrative Photography for her thesis. Since then, Alex’s artistic work has been exhibited at the University of Ottawa, Centre for Artistic + Social Practice, the Woodland Cultural Centre, and Critical Distance Centre for Curators. She is currently the Indigenous Curatorial Resident at Hamilton Artists Inc. where she developed her first curatorial exhibition, Born Celestial. alexjacobsblum.com
Asli Alin, Diaphanous Charms, 2022 (new commission). Images courtesy of the artist
Diaphanous Charms, 2022, Installation /colour effect acrylic sheets
I am inspired and fascinated by recurring forms found in nature and their ability to magically adapt to their respective environments in a variety of ways – appearing in the world around us with mathematical perfection. These varied forms show up in countless manifestations: coral reefs, plant textures and patterns, snowflakes, minerals and crystals. I am amazed by this inherent intelligence displayed in nature’s architectural systems, particularly the ability to create complex structures using simple elements. I often borrow from this overarching concept in my own creations by employing modularity to create complexity.
About the Artist
Asli Alin is a multidisciplinary artist traversing the disciplines of painting, installation and photography, and holds a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture. She has been commissioned to create public art in Canada and Europe and her work has been featured in a number of galleries throughout Toronto and abroad. Alin’s sculptural work has received tremendous interest over the past two years and has been invited to participate at festivals such as Lumen Festival (Waterloo. ON), Nuit Blanche North (Huntsville, ON) and Nuit Blanche Toronto. In addition to her sculptural work, Asli is also frequently commissioned by corporations and municipalities to create large scale murals in both digital and analogue format. Alin lives and works in Toronto. aslialin.com
Mary Anne Barkhouse, Dominion, 2011, inkjet print on Somerset paper. Image courtesy of the artist
Mary Anne Barkhouse
Dominion, 2011/2021, Billboard installation
Opening lines from the Book of Genesis set the stage for millennia worth of misguided notions around authority by presuming, as it does, to offer humanity sweeping powers over everything that soars, scuttles, swims, slithers, climbs, gallops, hops, springs, ambles, digs, jumps, flutters or trots. Regardless, the numerous creatures found in air and sea, forest and fen, carry on. They are not oblivious to our actions, but they continue… despite our actions. Salvation, for the undomesticated, comes not through something magically bestowed by rhetorical fiction or fairy dust, but by their own agency. And Nature’s response to the passage from the Book of Genesis? “… as if.”
About the Artist
Mary Anne Barkhouse was born in Vancouver, BC but has strong ties to both coasts as her mother is from the Nimpkish band, Kwakiutl First Nation of Alert Bay, BC and her father is of German and British descent from Nova Scotia. She is a descendant of a long line of internationally recognized Northwest Coast artists that includes Ellen Neel, Mungo Martin and Charlie James. She graduated with Honours from the Ontario College of Art in Toronto and has exhibited widely across Canada and the United States. As a result of personal and family experience with land and water stewardship, Barkhouse’s work examines ecological concerns and intersections of culture through the use of animal imagery. Inspired by issues surrounding empire and survival, Barkhouse creates installations that evoke consideration of the self as a response to history and environment. A member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, Barkhouse’s work can be found in numerous collections such as the National Gallery of Canada, Remai Modern in Saskatoon and the Banff Centre for the Arts in Alberta. In addition, she has public art installations in many cities across Canada, most recently in ᐄᓃᐤ (ÎNÎW) River Lot 11∞ Indigenous Art Park (Edmonton, AB), the Canadian Museum of History (Gatineau, QC), and Carleton University (Ottawa, ON). Barkhouse currently resides in the Haliburton Highlands of Ontario. maryannebarkhouse.ca
Kiera Boult, Hamilton’s My Lady, 2022. Image credit Alex Jacobs-Blum
Hamilton’s My Lady, 2022, Iterative performance artwork
Kiera Boult uses stand-up comedy, reality TV and institutional critique, in extemporized performance, video and installation. Her work features a performance persona Kiki who takes the role of art/reality star. Kiki is a self- described “guilt-free” celebrity offering critiques and “hot takes” from her position as a celebrated Black bi-racial (light skin) icon who navigates white institutions with ease. Boult’s practice is informed by intersectional feminism, identity politics and urban planning, using her hometown of Hamilton, ON as a recurring muse. Earlier performances used the trope of the therapy booth known as the Truth Booth (2013-2019), offering audiences gentrification acceptance therapy and grief counselling for the myth of the creative class. The Truth Booth: Art is the New Steal: Appropriating the Hamilton Landscape was initially a site-specific project located in the art district (James Street North) in Hamilton, ON and then expanded to Toronto to address the larger spread of gentrification throughout Southern Ontario. Hamilton’s My Lady is a performance that parodies comedian and famous Hamiltonian Martin Short’s 2012 comedy special I, Martin Short, Goes Home. Join beloved Persona Kiki as she combines autobiography, cultural critique and comedy to take audiences into the often mocked and stereotyped world of Steel City. Join us as we visit historic sites of systemic failure, light-skin hubris and tourist attractions all while Kiki tells two stories of desire and identity that run parallel. Featuring Artists Joshua Las and Delilah Rosier and in consultation with Alex Jacobs-Blum.
About the Artist
Kiera Boult is an interdisciplinary artist and performer from Hamilton. Boult’s practice utilizes camp and comedy to skeptically address issues that surround the role and/or identity of the artist and the institution. In 2019, Boult was the recipient of the City of Hamilton Arts Award for Emerging Visual Artist. Her work has been exhibited at the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Art Gallery of Hamilton, and Artcite Inc. Windsor. She has participated in the Art Gallery of York University’s final Performance Bus, and Life of a Crap Head’s Doo red at the Toronto Biennial of Art. Boult’s practice has appeared in the Chroma issue of Canadian Art. She holds a BFA in Criticism and Curatorial Practice from OCAD University and is currently Vtape’s Submissions, Collections & Outreach Coordinator.
Joseph Farrugia, Eye of the Beholder, 2022. Image courtesy of the artist
Eye of the Beholder, 2022
Wood Beehives, Bee Suit, Bee Smoker, Bee J-Tool, Speakers and Audio Devices
Hamilton is a unique and extraordinary place for both humans and non-human. Many factors have led to its present-day aesthetic assemblage. One of the greatest contributors, has been its humble honeybees. These powerful pollinators exemplify the industrious spirit at the heart of the city. Eye of the Beholder bring elements of the honeybees’ world to yours. The entire installation is made from real beehive equipment. The different colours display the light-spectrum visible to honeybees. The hives are spaced according to their colour’s energy wavelength. There will be sound and performance elements each day. Pollinators and our planet are in an ecological crisis right now and only through our collective actions will we create positive and long-lasting solutions. Eye of the Beholder allows you to see elements of the bee’s world and hopes to leave you with a sense of awareness and appreciation. Thanks to Sarah & Peter from Ontario Honey Creations.
About the Artist
Joseph Farrugia is an artist, apiarist and educator whose artwork is based on bridging humans and pollinators through collaborative experiences. He has a Bachelor of Fine Arts (NSCAD University), Diploma of Teaching and Learning (University of Canterbury) and is a Master Beekeeper (Cornell University) and contributing member of various provincial, national and international beekeeping committees and boards. He also teaches and assist with the arts program at St. Andrew’s College in Aurora, Ontario. Farrugia’s artistic practice centres around the idea of ecological engagement. He is interested in utilizing and exploring site specific interventions for the purpose developing multiple narrative. Farrugia focus is on creating art experiences to inspire humans to appreciate the importance and power of pollinators. This is done through fun, interactive and educational installations, workshops, events and performances. Farrugia continues to investigate how humans can interact with pollinators in accessible, non-threatening and positive ways, leading to meaningful appreciation. josephfarrugia.net
Melissa General, Nitewaké:non (detail), 2014, Chromogenic print. Image courtesy of the artist
Nitewaké:non, “the place where I come from,” examines my relationship to land by exploring the history in my home, Six Nations of the Grand River Territory. It is through this exploration on and with the land that I attempt to connect with and honour the memory inherently rooted in Six Nations Territory.
About the Artist
Melissa General is a Mohawk artist from Six Nations of the Grand River Territory. She is a graduate of the Ontario College of Art and Design and received a Masters of Fine Arts degree from York University. She is a multidisciplinary artist working in photography, audio, video and installation. Her practice is focused on her home territory of Six Nations and the concepts of memory, language, and land. Her artwork has been exhibited at the Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba, Lamont Gallery, Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art, Harbourfront Centre, Stride Gallery, Gallery 101, Gallery 44 Centre for Contemporary Photography and has been included in the 2016 Contemporary Native Art Biennial in Montréal. She is a Hnatyshyn Foundation REVEAL – Indigenous Art Award laureate and was named as the 2018 Ontario Arts Council Indigenous Arts Award Emerging Artist Laureate. General is a recipient of a 2021 Artist Prize from Toronto Friends of the Visual Arts. Nitewaké:non was part of the MAWA-produced Resilience Project.
Presented in collaboration with the enawendewin/relationships project and McMaster Museum of Art and sponsored by the McMaster Museum of Art.
Dawn Hackett Burns, Sentinel, 2022. Image courtesy of the artist
Dawn Hackett Burns
The Sentinel, 2022, Mixed-media sculpture (metal, ceramic, wood)
The mixed-media sculpture utilizes repetition and colour to speak to the intersection of human built culture in cities and my exploration and collaboration with non-human flora and fauna through converging practices as gardener, beekeeper, and artist. The work explores patterning which references urbanization, colonization and industry through low relief carving and hand-painted designs. The central structure draws upon the image of a sunflower with colour jointly used to capture and communicate heat and energy, but this is also employed in discord to critique and express dissonance. Carved motifs of global streetscapes and decay alternate and create layered patterns, a decorative motif references both the industrial history of Hamilton but also the repetition of patterning found in the natural environment. The artwork mimics nature through purposefully placed imperfections in the patterning which echo’s what is found in the natural world. Thank you to Dave Hind.
About the Artist
Dawn Hackett Burns is a sculptor and ceramic artist based in Greensville, Ontario. Her training in photography at Sheridan College provided a foundation in visual culture for Hackett Burns to grow her practice through workshops, residencies and apprenticeships. Hackett Burns has been an educator for over a decade and the pedagogical often intersects with her artistic practice. She integrates weaving patterns within her artworks drawn from textiles which reference craft, nature, women’s labour, industry, and her family’s history as factory workers in Hamilton. As an environmentalist with a focus on indigenous flora and fauna, Dawn draws artistic inspiration in the natural world and from her garden and is informed by her interest in beekeeping and healthy ecosystems for pollinators. She has been an instructor at the Art Gallery of Burlington, Dundas Valley School of Art and Cambridge Arts Centre. Hackett Burns was the artist-in-residence at the Art Gallery of Burlington in 2016 and has curated and produced several pop-up exhibitions with the purpose of illuminating the innovation of regional artists.
Renewal, Machinimagraph from She Falls for Ages, 2016, Skawennati. Image courtesy of the artist
Becoming Sky Woman, Machinimagraph from She Falls for Ages, 2016, Skawennati. Image courtesy of the artist
She Falls For Ages, 2017, New media / Machinima
She Falls For Ages is a sci-fi retelling of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) creation story. It reimagines Sky World as a planet populated by a technologically sophisticated people who revere the beautiful, energy-producing Celestial Tree. When Sky Woman, the brave astronaut and world-builder, learns that their world is dying, she knows what must be done. Using the new-media technique known as machinima, She Falls For Ages boldly mixes Haudenosaunee storytelling with science fiction to connect the deep past and the far future.
About the Artist
Skawennati investigates history, the future, and change from her perspective as an urban Kanien’kehá:ka woman and as a cyberpunk avatar. Her machinimas, still images, textiles and sculpture have been presented internationally in biennials, group exhibitions and solo shows. They are included in the collections of the National Gallery of Canada, the Musée d’art contemporain de Montreal and the Thoma Foundation, among others. Recipient of an Honorary Doctorate from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, she is also a proud member of the Guild of Future Architects and a founding board member of daphne, Montreal’s first Indigenous artist-run centre. She co-directs Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace, a research-creation network based at Concordia University, where she received her BFA. Originally from Kahnawà:ke Mohawk Territory, Skawennati resides in Montreal. She is represented by ELLEPHANT. skawennati.com
Co-curated with Alex-Jacobs Blum
Oblivion (Dead Astronaut #2), 2019 | Alouette, 2018 | Challenger, 2017 | Brandon Vickerd. Images courtesy of the artist
Alouette, 2018, Stainless steel, sedan
Oblivion (Dead Astronaut #2), 2019, Bronze
Challenger, 2017, Powder-coated Steel, Plexiglas
A satellite resting on a crushed sedan recalls a modern-day Icarus whose faith in technology led to hubris and his demise when he fell back to earth (Alouette); a bronze ghost clad in the technological marvel of an astronaut suit stands as a monument to a haunted future (Oblivion); banal street architecture crushed by the falling debris of botched space exploration (Challenger) – these are the motifs I utilize to articulate my concerns about technology and failure. These three works stand as a memento mori for the notion of progress – a reminder that all technology will fail. They recall past visions of the future, as vehicles designed for the colonization of the expanse of our cosmos, exemplifying the excesses of capitalism and the new space race dominated by billionaires and the global elite. These works cast a critical eye towards modernism but are also evidence of empathy for tarnished idealism. Alouette appears courtesy of Ex Muro and Quebec City
About the Artist
Brandon Vickerd is a Hamilton-based artist and Professor at York University, where he also serves as Chair of the Department of Visual Arts and Art History. He received his BFA from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (1999) and his MFA from the University of Victoria (2001). His artwork straddles the line between high and low culture, acting as a catalyst for critical thought and addressing the failed promise of a modernist future predicated on boundless scientific advancement. Whether through craftsmanship, the creation of spectacle, or humour, the goal of his work is to provoke the viewer into questioning the dominant myth of progress ingrained in Western world views. Vickerd has exhibited nationally and internationally, and has developed a number of permanent public artworks across Canada. brandonvickerd.com