Cross Cultura

Curated by Autumn Whiteway (Night Singing Woman)

Cross Cultural Examination #2 (2007) by George LittlechildAlberta Foundation for the Arts

Cross Cultura

A group exhibition comparing Indigenous and non-Indigenous aesthetics and epistemologies, with the latter centered on Eurocentric colonial views.  13 artwork pairings feature an Indigenous and non-Indigenous artist portraying similar subjects from a different world view.

Cross Cultural Examination #2, George Littlechild, 2007, From the collection of: Alberta Foundation for the Arts
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Caribou Hotel, Ted Harrison, 1982, From the collection of: Alberta Foundation for the Arts
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Pair 1: The Meeting of Two Cultures - The meeting of cultures is the inspiration for the Cross Cultura exhibition. Cross-cultural encounters offer opportunities for dialogue to celebrate differences, find similarities, and learn from one another.

Cross Cultural Examination #2 (2007) by George LittlechildAlberta Foundation for the Arts






Cross Cultural Examination #2
 features relatives Grace Marston of Los Angeles, a first cousin to the bi-racial artist's paternal grandfather and Eva Pipestem from the four nations of Maskwacis, a descendant of Chief Big Bear. Her descendant married the artist's first cousin.

Caribou Hotel (1982) by Ted HarrisonAlberta Foundation for the Arts

Pair 1: The Meeting of Two Cultures 
Caribou Hotel colourfully depicts life in the northern community of Carcross, Yukon, with new structures superimposed into the lives of the area's Indigenous inhabitants.

Caribou Hotel (1982) by Ted HarrisonAlberta Foundation for the Arts

With the onset of the Klondike Gold Rush, immigrants flooded into the area, traditionally inhabited by the semi-nomadic Tagish and Inland Tlingit peoples.

Big Bear Contemplates His Home and Native Land, Frederick McDonald, 1996, From the collection of: Alberta Foundation for the Arts
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Uncle Arch, James Nicoll, From the collection of: Alberta Foundation for the Arts
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Pair 2: Men's Portraiture - Two portraits of elderly men, both in deep thought, although the matters contemplated stem from two diverse realities.

Big Bear Contemplates His Home and Native Land (1996) by Frederick McDonaldAlberta Foundation for the Arts

Big Bear appointed Cree Chief in 1865, refused to sign Treaty 6 in 1876 - recognizing the detriment to the life of Indigenous peoples.

Uncle Arch by James NicollAlberta Foundation for the Arts






Pair 2: Men's Portraiture

Canada became home to colonial European settlers, lured by the promise of a new frontier. While Big Bear and his people lost their traditional territory and autonomy; settlers immigrated to develop and cultivate the appropriated land.

Self Portrait (2018) by Lauren CrazybullAlberta Foundation for the Arts

Pair 3: Women's Portraiture

Indigenous women, depicted through the stereotyped colonial gaze, are often posed stoically, romanticized, fetishized and viewed as an historical artifact rather than contemporary beings.

Self Portrait (2018) by Lauren CrazybullAlberta Foundation for the Arts

Lauren Crazybull's portraits assert Indigenous people into a modern framework, to awaken the viewer that Indigenous people exist within contemporary society.

Revenant Portrait No.3 Family Revenants (2016) by Karrie ArthursAlberta Foundation for the Arts

Pair 3: Women's Portraiture
Karrie Arthurs Revenant Portrait series examines the personal stories of 19th C settlers. Original portraits, altered with charcoal and ink, create narratives of past lives and the ghosts that now exist in their place.

Take Your Hat Off Edward Curtis (2008) by Delia Cross ChildAlberta Foundation for the Arts

Pair 4: Community and Family Relations

There is no pan-Indigenous kinship system amongst Indigenous peoples. It is complex and diverse, but extended family and community play an important role. People have responsibilities and codes of conduct within the community, to ensure the success of that community as a whole.

Family (1987) by Chris CranAlberta Foundation for the Arts

Pair 4: Community and Family Relations
The depiction of community relationships in Cross Child's artwork contrasts the humour and absurdity in Cran's Family; where Western society favours individualism and the nuclear family.

Family (1987) by Chris CranAlberta Foundation for the Arts

The contrast brings to mind the traumatic loss of childhood, language, culture, identity, and family and community connections faced by many Indigenous children impacted by the residential school system. The impacts of these intergenerational traumas are still felt today.

Legacy of a Liberated Culture (1990) by Jane Ash PoitrasAlberta Foundation for the Arts

Pair 5: Traditional Dwellings

Poitras presents the tipi (teepee) in a whimsical style. Tipi designs vary from nation to nation and represent a variety of meanings. Traditionally, tipis were the property of women.

Teepees (1956) by Pat GordonAlberta Foundation for the Arts

Pair 5: Traditional Dwellings
The image of the tipi (lodge) is reminiscent of a woman wearing a shawl, standing in prayer with upstretched arms.  The skirt provides the foundation for family and community protecting and sheltering the life inside a central hearth.

Urban Indian 3 (2007) by Terrance HouleAlberta Foundation for the Arts

Pair 6: Work Life

Terrance Houle's Urban Indian Series documents a day in the life of an urban Indigenous man dressed in regalia. Although humourous, the photos focus on issues of colonialism, racism, cultural difference and Indigenous identity in contemporary society.

Joe Clark, Alberta's Prime Minister (1995) by Robert ChelmickAlberta Foundation for the Arts

Pair 6: Work Life
Chelmick's portrayal of Joe Clark, Canada’s 16th Prime Minister, is an atypical depiction of a man in a position of political power. This privileged role is in strong contrast to the struggles many Indigenous peoples face daily due to systemic issues.

Looking For the Silver Bullet (1995) by Joane Cardinal-SchubertAlberta Foundation for the Arts

Pair 7: Fauna (Deer)

Many Indigenous peoples of Turtle Island (N. America) utilize the concept of All My Relations, in which kinship relationships not only include family and community but also extend to the animal and plant nations, as well as inanimate objects that can contain a spirit (eg. rocks).

Six Quilted Deer (1993) by Derrick DenholmAlberta Foundation for the Arts


Pair 7: Fauna (Deer) This concept reminds us, we all live within a larger system of relationships, and it is important to maintain balance and harmony with all other real and perceived spiritual beings with whom we share this realm.

Caller of Blue Medicine Lodge (2000) by Dale AugerAlberta Foundation for the Arts

Pair 8: Fauna (Birds)

The natural world shares many teachings and provides what we need to survive. It is critical to take only enough to fulfill our needs, and minimize waste.  The Seventh Generation Principle of the Haudenosaunee considers the impact of today’s decisions on the next 7 generations.

Bird (1983) by John SnowAlberta Foundation for the Arts

Pair 8: Fauna (Birds)
Fauna play a valuable role in the Seven Sacred Teachings, with fauna assigned a different value.  These include the Eagle (love), Bison (respect), Bear 
(courage), Sabe aka Sasquatch (honesty), Beaver (wisdom), Wolf 
(humility) and Turtle (truth).

Bear Clan (1994) by William Singer IIIAlberta Foundation for the Arts

Pair 9: Fauna (Bears)

These Indigenous views are in contrast to attitudes that devalue the lives of animals, In favour of human exceptionalism. 

Bear Clan (1994) by William Singer IIIAlberta Foundation for the Arts

Capitalism's short-sighted view results in the exploitation of resources for short-term financial gain, often at the expense of environmental sustainability.

One to Look At (1973) by Harry SavageAlberta Foundation for the Arts








Pair 9: Fauna (Bears)

Capitalistic ideology results in the destruction of animal habitats; marginalization of certain species; hunting for sport and decoration; and the exploitation of animals for entertainment.

The Sky Beings (1974) by Alex JanvierAlberta Foundation for the Arts

Pair 10: The Cosmos

Across the planet, people have looked towards the night sky with wonder and devised mythologies based on the different constellations.

The Sky Beings (1974) by Alex JanvierAlberta Foundation for the Arts

Sky Beings, such as Sky Woman (Haudenosaunee), have played important characters in creation stories.

Big Dipper (1993) by Katie OheAlberta Foundation for the Arts

Pair 10: The Cosmos
One of the most well-known asterisms in the northern hemisphere is the Big Dipper, which is part of Ursa Major (based on ancient Roman mythology of the she-bear). To the Ojibwe people, the Big Dipper is called Ojig (fisher), and subject to its own mythology.

Untitled by David EkootaAlberta Foundation for the Arts

Pair 11: Stone Carving

There is a long tradition of soapstone carving amongst the Inuit; often quarried from northern regions, and subjected to an extensive pre-contact trade network. While Inuit carvings were originally for personal use, the tourist trade began to fuel the art market.

Snowboarder (2005) by Warren WenzelAlberta Foundation for the Arts

Pair 11: Stone Carving
Although similar in form, Wenzel's carving of a snowboarder is quite different than the subjects portrayed in Indigenous and Inuit stone carving. 


The Dancer (2001) by April MercrediAlberta Foundation for the Arts

Pair 12: Social Life - Dancing

In 1885, the Indian Act of Canada enacted a ban on Indigenous dances and ceremonies, upheld by the PASS System (implemented to keep Indigenous people on reserves), and residential school assimilationist policies.

Dancer #1 (2006) by Steven MackAlberta Foundation for the Arts

Pair 12: Social Life - Dancing
While Indigenous people were experiencing an erasure of their culture, dance maintained an important role for social connection and romance amongst Canadian settlers.

blood (2004) by Faye HeavyShieldAlberta Foundation for the Arts

Pair 13: Blood

HeavyShield's blood, is one component of an installation dedicated to the memory of family and her Blackfoot culture. 

blood (2004) by Faye HeavyShieldAlberta Foundation for the Arts

blood is composed of small traditional hand tied fabric bundles, dyed red to emphasize the importance of bloodlines.

Blood and the Blade (1990) by Garth RankinAlberta Foundation for the Arts

Pair 13: Blood
While it is important to recognize and celebrate our differences, it is critical to acknowledge that we are human beings comprised of the same biological materials. This suggests that we have more similarities than differences.

Please note the text is written from the perspective of the curator, Autumn Whiteway and contains conjecture. The curator's perspectives may not represent the original intentions of the artist.

Credits: Story

Curated by Autumn Whiteway
2021 AFA Emerging Curator Fellowship
https://www.affta.ab.ca/news/autumn-whiteway-awarded-afa-fellowship-emerging-curators

This exhibition represents 26 artworks by 26 Alberta artists:
 
Karrie Arthurs (1978)
Dale Auger (1958-2008)
Joane Cardinal-Schubert (1942-2009)
Robert Chelmick (1949)
Chris Cran (1949)
Delia Cross Child (1958)
Lauren Crazybull (1994)
Derrick Denholm (1969)
David Ekoota (1929-1984)
Pat Gordon (1914 - ?)
Ted Harrison (1926-2015)
Faye HeavyShield (1953)
Terrance Houle (1975)
Alex Janvier (1935)
George Littlechild (1958)
Steven Mack (1963-2009)
Frederick McDonald (1957)
April Mercredi (1940)
James Nicoll (1892-1986)
Katie Ohe (1937)
Jane Ash Poitras (1951)
Garth Rankin (1949)
Harry Savage (1938)
William Singer III (1964)
John Snow (1911-2004)
Warren Wenzel (1955)
 
Please note the exhibition materials are written from the perspective of the curator and may not reflect the values of the below institution.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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