Kiskithihta Mīthokwesowin: Discovering our Gifts – A Journey of Indigenous Art and Expression
Curated by Justin Bear L’Arrivee & Jory Thomas
August 21 to September 8, 2023
School of Art Gallery, Collections Gallery
Art has long been recognized as a gift that has the power to transcend time, culture, and boundaries. It has the capacity to bridge generations, spark conversations, and cultivate understanding. The art exhibition “Kiskithihta Mīthokwesowin: Discovering our Gifts” embodies this sentiment, showcasing the profound impact of Indigenous art as a means of storytelling, cultural preservation, and empowerment. Curated by Justin Bear L’Arrivee and Jory Thomas, this exhibition takes visitors on a journey into the vibrant world of Indigenous art, with a focus on nurturing the talents of the next generation of Indigenous artists.
Running from August 21 to September 8, 2023, this unique art exhibition is more than just a display of artistic pieces – it’s a testament to the transformative power of art in the context of reconciliation and self-discovery. The exhibition emerges from the Kiskithihta Mīthokwesowin outreach program, which aims to inspire and activate young Indigenous artists, encouraging them to share their perspectives and stories through their artistic creations.
The heart of this exhibition lies in the workshops led by four Indigenous artists: KC Adams, Jaime Black, Jessica Canard, and Sadie Lavoie. These artists lent their expertise and guidance to workshops held at various community organizations, including Ka Ni Kanichihk, Marymound Inc., Rainbow Resource Centre, and Willow Tree Action Therapy Youth Services. These workshops were not only about artistic skill development but also about fostering a sense of community, instilling confidence, and passing down cultural knowledge.
Each workshop was a unique exploration into different aspects of Indigenous culture, creativity, and history. Sadie Lavoie’s workshop at Rainbow Resource Centre delved into the relationship between land, plants, animals, and 2Spirit identity. Jaime Black’s workshop at Action Therapy took participants on a journey through the art-making practices of Indigenous ancestors, connecting contemporary youth with their heritage. KC Adams guided participants from the Summer Program in creating collaborative video art, demonstrating the power of storytelling through visual media. Jessica Canard’s workshop at Ka Ni Kanichihk focused on the intersection of Anishinaabe heritage and urban living, utilizing techniques from graffiti art and muralism.
The resulting artworks displayed in the exhibition stand as a testament to the impact of these workshops. They are not only visually stunning but also deeply meaningful, reflecting the personal journeys, cultural connections, and creative expressions of the young artists who participated.
The success of “Kiskithihta Mīthokwesowin: Discovering our Gifts” is a collective achievement, made possible through the dedication of the participating youth, the guidance of the guest artists, and the support of community partners. The exhibition serves as a reminder that art is a dynamic conduit for cultural transmission, self-discovery, and empowerment. It embodies the spirit of reconciliation, echoing the sentiment that Indigenous art holds the power to pave the way for a more equitable, just, and decolonized future.
The “Kiskithihta Mīthokwesowin: Discovering our Gifts” exhibition is a living testament to the ability of art to transcend boundaries and create bridges between cultures. It reminds us that the act of creation is not only a gift to oneself but a gift to the community and future generations. Through the unique perspectives and narratives woven into the artworks, visitors are invited to engage with the profound stories that art can tell, stories that have the potential to shape a more inclusive and empathetic world.