The exhibition Storytelling shares the voices and traditions of four Indigenous artists, Haley Bassett, Adrienne Greyeyes, Laurie McCallum, and Christina Wallwork. The artworks in this exhibition uses traditional materials and mediums such as beading, finger weaving, sewing, painting, print making, moosehide and plants harvested from the land. The relationships with the land, nature, plants, and animals influences their art. Some of the artists use their art to form connections with their past that has been severed. Some create to honour those whose lives were taken too soon. They use their art as a form of expression to reclaim their culture and share it so that the world knows that the Indigenous people are still here.
The artworks in this exhibition have a story behind them. Indigenous storytelling uses oral tradition, dance, music, and art to express the history of our people. These stories have been passed down through the generations not only as an oral history, but to share where to find certain places to harvest and hunt, along with vital information for survival. Stories often go hand in hand with survival including sharing knowledge on which waterways to take, or which plants to grow and eat. Stories were told for everybody (young and old) and were a mixture of supernatural and everyday life. Storytelling could vary between households. They were told around the fire at night or the kitchen table. Sitting together telling stories created lots of laughing and singing and shared what previous generations told.
Curated by Christina Wallwork and Jamie-Lee Cormier
Feature image: Christina Wallwork, Spark of the Phoenix, 2023 Acrylic on canvas, Collection of the artist
Adrienne Greyeyes is a nehiyaw from the Bigstone Cree Nation in Northern Alberta. She pursued teachings of cultural arts since she was a teenager and spent many hours with her nohkomak, elders, and teachers learning and perfecting her skills. In addition, Adrienne is a graduate of the Emily Carr University of Art and Design.
The purpose of her work is to honor traditional practices by focusing on a minimalist design that serves to emphasize the natural beauty of the traditional materials. The work involved in obtaining a moose hide and processing it takes considerable skill, time and knowledge and the finished hide is so precious and beautiful on its own. There is much patience and skill required to complete a beaded project as well as honour in being able to carry on family designs. Adrienne’s beadwork reflects the lifecycles of medicines and stories emphasizing the importance of relationship between land and identity.
Christina Wallwork is a Métis artist from Peterborough, Ontario who currently resides in Grande Prairie Alberta. Wallwork studied Culture and Religion at Nipissing University and has a Visual Arts and Design diploma from Grande Prairie Regional College. Wallwork’s pieces are displayed in many private and public collections across Canada. She is an active member in the Federation of Canadian Artists. Wallwork’s expressive abstract art focuses on wildlife, nature, storytelling, and spirituality which she uses to convey elements of the human spirit. She works primarily in sumi and India inks, and acrylic paint. Her process is very intuitive, and her pieces inspire the viewer to grow in appreciation of the planet and the indomitable human spirit.
Haley Bassett is an award-winning interdisciplinary artist and arts administrator of Métis and Eastern European descent. Born in 1991 to cattle-rancher parents, she lives and works in Sunset Prairie, BC, which is in the traditional territory of the Dene, Dane-zaa, and Cree, encompassed by Treaty 8 and the Métis Homeland.
Having studied painting and drawing at the Florence Academy of Art, she was later mentored by Peter von Tiesenhausen and Brendan Tang. In May 2020, she completed her BFA in Visual Arts from Emily Carr University, during which time she was awarded the BCAC Scholarship twice. She also received the BCAC Early Career Development Grant in 2020 and the Distinguished Award from the Regional Juried Art Exhibition in 2021.
Although Bassett started out as a painter, her visual practice has since broadened to include sculpture, installation, beadwork, found objects, natural materials, and textiles. Her practice explores how time, place, family histories, and personal traumas converge as formational aspects of the self. Her work draws inspiration from her Métis and Eastern European heritage.
I always knew that I would love to be an artist, and dreamed of someday living out my life painting and sketching under an endless summer sky. Some of my favourite memories as a child are laying on the floor drawing and colouring horse after horse… The subjects of my artwork have changed since then, but I still love the thrill of creating something beautiful from a blank piece of paper or canvas.
Most of my work portrays a strong focal point with one subject dominating the canvas. My inspiration comes from what I see around me every day and from inspiring photos sent to me by clients, friends and family.
I work with acrylics, layering colour upon colour to conceive something realistic that will move the viewer and open their eyes to the beauty that surrounds us in everything, from wildlife, to landscapes and to something as plain as piece of equipment. It is a great honour to be able to create memories and beauty for all to enjoy.