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nimama is a tough cookie & Looking Beyond Ourselves

Michelle Sound & Phyllis Poitras-Jarrett
January 29 – March 12, 2022
Reception: January 29, 7 – 9pm

nimama is a tough cookie explores personal and familial narratives with a consideration of Indigenous artistic processes. Michelle Sound’s works explore cultural identities and histories by engaging materials and concepts within a contemporary context. Through utilizing such practices as drum making, caribou hair tufting, beadwork, and photography, her work highlights that acts of care and joy are situated in family and community. They work with traditional and contemporary materials and techniques to explore maternal labour, identity, cultural knowledge, and cultural inheritances.

Michelle Sound is a Cree and Métis artist, educator and mother. She is a member of Wapsewsipi Swan River First Nation in Northern Alberta, her maternal side is Cree and her paternal side is Métis from the Buffalo Lake Métis settlement in central Alberta. She was born and raised on the unceded and ancestral home territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Simon Fraser University, School for the Contemporary Arts, and a Master of Applied Arts from Emily Carr University Art + Design. Michelle is currently an Indigenous Advisor at Douglas College and has taught workshops as a guest artist at the Richmond Art Gallery and the Contemporary Art Gallery.

Looking Beyond Ourselves celebrates traditional Indigenous worldviews. The Spirit Animals symbolize the qualities and values that serves as a guide through life. Embracing these values will create conditions for the light we carry to shine bright on each of our journeys. These values guide us to a balanced healthy life creating space to look beyond ourselves and notice that Mother Nature’s abundant offerings are what keeps us alive. The unique colourful symmetrical floral beadwork and animal motifs celebrate diversity and confirm that harmony and balance in nature are always available and present. The grey background and white flowers featured in each print represent the universe. Hidden within each work is a ‘spirit bead’, which in traditional Métis beadwork is an off-colour or misplaced bead. Seeking this ‘imperfection’ in each work invites the viewer to reflect on humanity’s own disruptive imperfections and how the world might be re-imagined through the values embodied in each Spirit Animal.

Phyllis Poitras-Jarrett is a contemporary Métis artist from Regina, Saskatchewan. A self taught-artist, Phyllis is inspired by her Kokum, who created beautiful beaded necklaces and braided rugs from old clothing. Her artwork showcases the beautiful diversity of Mother Earth’s flora and fauna through intricate Métis beadwork design and animal motifs. Phyllis’ work is shaped by her experiences from the past, the present, and her own cultural background, as well as a love of nature that has been with her since childhood. E Poitras-Jarrett’s work embraces the worldview that humankind are stewards of Mother Earth and must ensure the health and survival of all living things.