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Victoria McIntosh smiles as her art is unveiled.

Victoria McIntosh smiles as her art is unveiled.

A Creation Story illustrated on glass

Celebrating the work of an Access student and artist

October 18, 2019 — 

The next time you stop by Migizii Agamik, home of the Access Program on the Fort Garry campus, be sure to look up. There, glistening in the light, you will find the colourful glass panels gracing the balcony of the second floor, coming to life with A Creation Story by Victoria McIntosh.

On Oct. 9, the Access student, grad student, and Anishinaabe artist from Sagkeeng First Nation celebrated the official unveiling of her work with her family, friends, and campus community. The project is called Painting Our Stories: Enhancing the Work and Study Environment of Migizii Agamik, and it’s funded by the U of M’s Office of Indigenous Engagement. Her concept is based on the creation story, the idea that we all start as a simple dot and then there are more and more dots, or moments.

McIntosh tells a story within a story, and is reminded of wise advice once provided to her. “Pay attention. Don’t get ahead of yourself. The moment is right now. That’s what the stories are about.”

Panels from A Creation Story

Panels from A Creation Story

She shares the universal story illustrated on her panels. “A long time ago, time was different, it was forever, no words can comprehend the openness, space,” she told everyone.

“It was blue, moving like waves of comfort, the smell of the sea… Something came in moments, which looked like morphs of energy movements… Many stories began to exist as ‘the moments’ came into a process. The more they surfaced out of the water and onto the ground, the more we see… Every moment was unique. Each of them had colours, feelings, positive and negative… The feelings of morphing, not quite like physical birth, more like a dream state… There was a time of interruption, a time where ‘The Trees’ felt the sorrow of ‘The Humans’… The Humans realized, ‘moments’ never left, they were always there…”

She completes her story.

Victoria McIntosh

Victoria McIntosh

“Moments are interpreted through dreams, through vision, and learning. Is this the purpose of humans? What about the being who was constantly watching, but seemed to be in the distance, watching and waiting. At times misunderstood, sometimes an annoyance to ‘the humans’. ‘The humans’ will travel with moments, one moment a time. ‘Raven’ will wait at the end of the line, when the human learns ‘moments’, the real interpretation of ‘time’.”

Louise Olson, retired Access instructor, celebrated McIntosh’s work in her introduction, noting the art would provide “a visual voice” and a “comfort to students” and “teach others who we are as a people”.

Olson also shared McIntosh’s story, noting how she fulfilled a promise to her late mother, to become a teacher. McIntosh recently earned her teaching degree from the U of M and now teaches art to grade 7 and 8 students in her home community of Sagkeeng.

McIntosh’s work honours students who did not survive residential school, her late mother, and her late grandson. The artist was shaped by residential school, and the loss of her mother. She plays a huge role in Anishinaabe storytelling and history, as an artist and art educator. Her work is realistic, and abstract. “Victoria is a kind, loving, and gifted person, still that little girl who listened to stories from her grandmother,” says Olson.

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