Blog / Archives / April 2015

Community Gallery Exhibition: John Hatch: Montreal and Japan

Community Gallery Exhibition: John Hatch: Montreal and Japan

John Hatch: Montreal and Japan

1995 - 1998, silver gelatin prints

John Hatch had become a Whitehorse institution when he passed away suddenly in December 2000 at the age of 63. A proud member of, and a regular contributor to, Jim Robb's Colourful 5% books one never saw John around town without his camera at hand. John didn't really work a regular job for the couple of years I knew him. His role in the community was to take a lot of photos of people, community events and our built environment. When he died he left a collection of tens of thousands of mostly uncatalogued images. On these walls are images that he had intended to exhibit or publish as a collection. These images were in a small box of 8 x 10 images John had given to a mutual friend before his passing.

John went to Japan in the mid-90s with only $20 in his pocket and a handful of contacts for friends who had stayed with him at his cabin in Moccasin Flats in what is now called Shipyards Park. His cabin is still there though it looks nothing like it did inside when he lived there. Beginning in the 1970s, John played host to hundreds of visitors in that cabin. The images from Montreal were taken sometime around 1997 and 1998 when John was visiting his mother. John was there to explore the possibility of going back to art school at the same time he was pounding the Montreal pavement with his portfolio in search of galleries and curators who might exhibit his photos.

These photographs were printed in a tiny darkroom upstairs in the Quonset building at 3rd and Hanson St (211 Hanson St) that John shared with Whitehorse Star photographer Vince Federoff. John's work in the darkroom was one of his great strengths as an artist.

- Andrew Connors, Curator

Artwork Wednesday: Walking With Our Sisters

Artwork Wednesday: Walking With Our Sisters

Walking With Our Sisters, a Memorial Exhibition travelling across the country for a total of seven years, commemorates the lives of the hundreds of missing and murdered aboriginal women in North America through art and ceremony.


Photo: Walking With Our Sisters


Across a red carpet laid on top of a bed of sage and sweet grass are placed 1800 pairs of moccasin tops. The moccasin tops, sometimes called ‘vamps’, ‘uppers’ or ‘tongues’, are arranged in paths leading around the lodge, guiding the visitor in a clockwise motion towards the back of the room, and then around the central altar.


Photo: Walking With Our Sisters


The ceremonial altar was built with a wooden frame and strengthened with rocks and dirt. Cedar boughs are laid on top to support sacred objects and offerings, including berries and feathers. Clan flags and prayer flags representing the Crow and Wolf Clan hang alongside the altar to honor the people of the Yukon, and the traditional land of the Kwanlin Dün First Nation.


Photo: Walking With Our Sisters

Many elements of the memorial installation represent the Yukon and the Crow and Wolf Clans. Two large blankets hang at the back of the lodge, with designs of the Crow and Wolf by Keith Wolfe Smarch. Yukon Button Blankets made and gifted by communities across the Yukon are also included in the exhibition and are offered to visitors needing comfort during their visit.


Photo: Walking With Our Sisters


The moccasin tops in the exhibition are each an individual artistic expressions of love, support and remembrance. The unfinished moccasins represent the unfinished lives of these women. All together, the 1820+ pairs of moccasin tops represent the scope and mass of the issue, while individually they represent the significance of each life taken. The children’s vamps included in the exhibition are dedicated to children who never returned home from residential schools.


Vamps pictured made by Lena White. Photo: Walking With Our Sisters

The exhibition began when Métis artist Christi Belcourt made a call out over Facebook for donations of vamps, with a target of receiving 600. In under a year Belcourt had a collection of 1820+ made by a total of 1400+ artists.


Vamps pictured made by Misty Underwood. Photo: Walking With Our Sisters

Many of the artists prayed and dedicated their stitching to a mother, aunt, sisters, partner, friend, or woman who has gone missing or been murdered. Moccasin tops were donated by individuals from across the world who support the cause. An alphabetical listing of the artists can be found here.


Vamps pictured made by Becky Bebamikawe-Roy. Photo: Walking With Our Sisters


The Yukon Arts Centre is proud to partner with the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre in bringing this powerful memorial exhibition to the Yukon. Viewing hours are Monday to Saturday from 10am – 5pm, Wednesdays from 10am – 8pm. To read up on the exhibition, please visit www.walkingwithoursisters.com, and to learn more about related upcoming events, please visit our Walking With Our Sisters-Whitehorse Facebook Page. 

Closed Friday and Monday

Closed Friday and Monday

Enjoy the long weekend!

Spring Gallery Openings Easter Weekend

Spring Gallery Openings Easter Weekend

Do you have plans this long weekend? Interested in visiting some local art galleries? The Yukon Arts Centre will be closed Easter Friday and Monday, but open to the public Saturday, April 4th from 12pm - 5pm.


Don’t miss the two exhibitions exploring themes of love and heartbreak, Sonja Ahlers: War in Peace and the Museum of Broken Relationships on display in the Public Gallery!
There are also many exciting and sure to be beautiful art openings happening around town. Take a look below at what’s going on in the art world this weekend. 

 


@ The Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre in the Hude Nìù Kú Gallery
Gēs Tu’è - T’Ahéeni - Gyò Chúa - M’Clintock River
Opening Reception April 1 at 5pm
The M’Clintock River area is the heart of the original Tagish Kwan territory. Together with the so tires and traditional knowledge front he elders, the physical traces left on the landscape— the cabins and ancient campsites— tell the story of where people came from and how they lived long ago.


@ Arts Underground, 15-305 Main Street
Northern Fibres Guild
Opening Reception April 2 at 5pm
A public educational component consisting of photos, written explanations, and partially completed work to demonstrate the process of turning raw sheared fleece into yarn or felt and then into finished knitted or woven garments. The exhibition is based off of a Shearing to Shawl activity which took place at the Northern Fibres Guild Spring Retreat in 2014. Alpaca fleece sheared at Midnight Sun Alpaca Farm.


@ Yukon Artists at Work, 4129 4th Avenue 
Raven Rules
Opening Reception Thursday, April 2 at 5pm
Paintings by Heidi Hehn


@ Northern Front Studio, Waterfront Station
Flight
Opening Reception April 2 at 5pm
A team show by Susan Walton and Nicole Bauberger inspired by an impulsive trip to Spain last fall
paintings, drawings, assemblages and installation as well as a place where you can draw birds if you want.

@ North End Gallery, 1116 Front Street
Catherine Deer: Elements
Opening Reception April 10
New works in charcoal by Catherine Deer; a visual exploration of how nature feeds our imaginations.

Meet the Artist: Sonja Ahlers

Meet the Artist: Sonja Ahlers

Photo by Sonja Ahlers

Sonja Ahlers, award winning visual artist and poet currently based in Victoria, BC, spent 7 years living in the Yukon and developing her artistic practice. Without formal training, Ahlers utilizes the artist book in unconventional ways to present a large volume of work, exploring themes of feminism and contemporary social analysis. Ahlers has exhibited her work in galleries across Canada and internationally, and was long listed for the Sobey Art Award in 2011. We asked Ahlers a few questions about her practice, and the preparation of her current exhibition on display at the Yukon Arts Centre ‘War in Peace’.

 


Installation view of ‘War in Peace’ Exhibition. Photo by Allainah Whachell. 

 

WHAT IS UNIQUE ABOUT YOUR PROCESS?

It is a very time-based process. It’s like I have to live with materials for years before I can see its worth. It is near-endless sorting. But the collecting, editing, processing and archiving is a huge part [of] the process – it helps me process emotions attached to the materials and objects and the work itself. What survives in print or in the gallery has stood a difficult test of time. I end up handling materials over and over til it makes me tired – even small things like a swatch of angora. It’s exhausting. I end up destroying a lot of it.  And now that I’ve typed that out I think I may need to change my process.


Installation Process before the opening of ‘War In Peace’ Exhibition


HAS YOUR PRACTICE CHANGED OVER TIME?

I’ve been making installation work since I was about 3 or 4 years old. I’d make up little scenes or dioramas in my bedroom. I remember overturning an old 1940s suitcase and pushing it up against the wall to create a shelf surface and then arranging a display of carefully chosen objects. My parents had a lot of stuff in the house - antiques and junk. I recall the pride I felt when I showed my mother what I had done. Because there was always so much stuff the house it was a way for me to make sense out chaos in a tactile way that made sense to me. It wasn’t my chaos it was their chaos and I found a way to survive in it. The handling of objects also helps in processing thoughts in general. And again, it is a form of archiving. So since that time I’ve just been honing this process. I’m still way off from where I would like to be but fortunately I get to be an artist for the rest of my life so there is still some time to figure it out.


Installation detail of ‘War in Peace’ Exhibition

HOW DID YOU END UP IN THE NORTH?

A break up naturally. I was very tired of being in Vancouver and dealing with that particular arts scene at that time. My work wasn’t fitting in and I got tired of bending myself into a pretzel to make things work so I left. In hindsight, I see that I was able to clear the slate and build my work back up again – see what stuck.  I can’t seem to escape art as much as I try. I think I started working on my “break up book” the third day I got to the Yukon but since then most of that work has been destroyed or edited down til it barely exists.

Installation view of ‘War in Peace’ Exhibition. Photo by Allainah Whachell.

WHAT IS THE BEST AND WORST THING ABOUT BEING AN ARTIST?

Everything?  I used to say it’s like equal parts joke, blessing and curse. I honestly don’t know but like I said – It is something I get to do and I’ve figured out a way to make it work for me so that’s like a miracle in itself. I am relentless. A part of me doesn’t care which is probably why I’m still doing this at all. I make a lot of different kinds of work some of which is to entertain myself and some of which is to share with others. It is a job in itself deciding on what goes where.


Installation detail of ‘War in Peace’ Exhibition


WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE STYLE OF ART?

I don’t feel particularly influenced by other art (because I just do my own thing) but there are many artists whose work I like and am inspired by! I really love Jason de Haan’s work. I think he is my favourite Canadian artist. I am very fortunate to have friends whose work I love – I guess that is another perk about being an artist – being friends with other artists. I get a lot of inspiration from writers – Lindy West is one of my favourites. She’s like a warrior of the internet. But my favourite piece of art work right now is Broken Obelisk  by Barnett Newman. It’s a staggering piece of sculpture.  

WHAT IS YOUR DREAM PROJECT?

Making (something like) a broken obelisk ?  To make some kind of epic god head sculpture and then call it a day? Yeah right. Actually my dream project is to make a horror movie using my ex-boyfriend to score it (the one from the break-up). It’s about an artist who moves to the north after a break-up and things start to go sideways. It’s a giant preposterous pipedream but I live to dream and just the idea alone has kept me going for at least two years now.  I’m only thinking of it right now because there was a bit of movement in the last 24 hours on the project. Mostly the ideas sit on shelves and gather dust. Some ideas gather speed and others just die. I don’t have a lot of control over these things so I can’t care too much (otherwise I’ll self-destruct).


WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON NOW?

I am considering starting the moodboard for the horror movie but I’m scared because it all feels so farfetched. I have to finish a bunny for a sixteen year old (wearing a Frida Kahlo-inspired flower crown). It might be my last bunny ever. I don’t know! Things are changing in my life. I’m trying to finish up some leftover collages and I can’t seem to put these wooden coffee stir sticks down. They’re so stupid (like the aluminum foil ball) but I get a lot of weird pleasure painting them and gluing them together in stacks (plus it’s an easy thing to do while I research movies). I’ve been working on a book for several years now. It’s currently sitting on a shelf. I might make a little zine for something/anything immediate. I also have to finish my design work for the fourth and final Rookie Yearbook. It is a bittersweet time.  I kind of doubt the film project will ever happen – I am very realistic and I know disappointment like the back of my hand - but it would be like my broken obelisk. Or not.


Installation detail of ‘War in Peace’ Exhibition


‘War in Peace’ by Sonja Ahlers brings the style of the artist zine into a full gallery installation, exploring the break-up which brought Ahlers to the Yukon, and the emotional trauma of starting over. Influences are taken from the 1970s book The Joy of Sex, the poetry of Emily Dickinson, and the work of fellow artist Allainah Whachell. The installation will be open to the public until May 16, 2015.

Installation view of ‘War in Peace’ Exhibition. Photo by Allainah Whachell.