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Artwork Wednesday: Jacqueline Olson

Artwork Wednesday: Jacqueline Olson

This week’s Artwork Wednesday features the work of Jacqueline Olson’s Gwich’in Dress and Moccasins, currently on display until August 23rd in the Locate: Selections from the Yukon Arts Centre Permanent Collection exhibition. Olson’s heritage is of both Gwich’in and Danish descent and the artist was born and raised in Dawson City, YT. Olson studied Arts Administration at Camosun College (Victoria, BC) and later pursued a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the Alberta College of Art and Design (Calgary, Alberta).  The artist returned to Dawson in 1992 and remains very involved in the Yukon arts community.

Gwich’in Dress was created in response to Bill C31. The bill sought, in part, to revise specific elements of the Indian Act governing Indian Status, which were considered discriminatory. Consequently, when the bill came into effect, Olson became a status Indian. This prompted the artist to explore her cultural background as a newly designed First Nations person and, more specifically, the Gwich’in heritage which she shares with her grandparents. The artist associates the fibre of paper to tanning skin, the process, the texture, and the overall look are the parallels she seeks.  Olson views paper as a medium with great duality with its ability to be both fragile and durable. Gwich'in Dress and Moccasins is constructed out of handmade paper and is adorned with decorative porcupine quills.

Olson identifies with the notion of process, whether traditional or contemporary, as the most important part of creating. The traditional craft in tanning a hide or making paper from fibres is a tedious process which provides the artist with a meditative period to contemplate her future works. Olson strives to project a uniqueness that is individual and expresses the balance of cultures she is a part of.  

To view more works by the artist, here

Artwork Wednesday: Michael Belmore

Artwork Wednesday: Michael Belmore

This Wednesday we will feature the work of Michael Belmore and his piece Tendency currently on display in the Locate exhibition. Belmore, of Anishnabe (Ojibway) heritage, was born in 1971 north of Thunder Bay, Ontario and is a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. He holds an associated diploma in sculpture/installation from the Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto, Ontario, and currently lives in the Haliburton Highlands in Ontario. Belmore is known for his sculptural work in a variety of media including plastics, metal, wood, and stone all of which are important to understanding his interest in nature as a commodity.


Tendency was created as a part of the Three Rivers: Wild Waters, Sacred Places exhibition and project which began in 2003. The project was organized by the Yukon Chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS), the Yukon Arts Centre, the Yukon Conservation Society and the Wilderness and Tourism Association of the Yukon.  Eleven nationally prominent artists, writers, journalists, and photographers were invited to join twenty-six people from the Yukon and Northwest Territories in three separate but simultaneous journeys along the Snake, the Wind, and the Bonnet Plume rivers. In return, these guests were asked to create works that responded to the Northern landscape which still sustains an aboriginal way of life. The aim of which was to heighten public awareness through an alternative vision that would help safeguard this vital boreal wilderness area.


Belmore's Tendency was a part of this national touring exhibition. Associated with the theme of mining and exploration through the use of copper, the artist explores a prominent Northern narrative. Here, a sheet of copper has been shaped by the artist to create the impression of landforms found along part of the Wind River.  The title, Tendency, suggests a subtle shift in direction, perhaps in the public's attitude towards resource use. Belmore's piece asks us if these precious materials, such as copper, are worth destroying and reshaping our natural landscape for the sake of a Southern demand. The artist’s work emulates the image of a topographic map, further emphasizing the way we look at nature: an expedition in search of resources. As Belmore notes, "The work is a reflection on the processing of nature; beneath the surface of the landscape lies a plenitude of materials ripe for commercial consumption." Free-standing on a steel base, this piece beckons the viewer to exerience it in close proximity to truly appreicate Belmore's masterful technique in metalwork. 

Tendency

Copper and steel

36" wide x 48" high x 24" high

2004

Artwork Wednesday: Jim Logan

Artwork Wednesday: Jim Logan

This week’s Artwork Wednesday will be dedicated to Jim Logan’s piece entitled A Re-Thinking on the Western Front. This large-scale work is currently on display with the Locate exhibition and is a part of the Yukon Arts Centre Permanent Collection.

With Métis heritage, Logan grew up in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia and at a young age was encouraged to pursue painting by his mother.  Logan followed his artistic inclination and travelled to Europe to study the work of Van Gogh and Edvard Munch. It  is possible that during this time, Logan began to take notice of what he describes as “the European ego.” As it can be seen in A Re-Thinking on the Western Front, the artist challenges the viewer by redefining a familiar and iconographic image. Housed in the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam serves as the basis of Logan's statement. The artist is addressing the art historical canon that defines what constitutes an artistic “masterpiece.” Logan’s piece speaks to the lack of diversity amongst art and artists that are held within internationally renowned collections.

Logan draws refrence to Michelangelo's 'Creation of Adam' from the Sistine Chapel 

The power of this work begins with its sheer size and ostentatious gilded frame that is reminiscent of the coveted paintings produced during the time of antiquity. Logan replaces the image of God and Adam with First Nations figures and furthers his message by depicting God in female form. The bold primary colours play into the mocking naivety that the artist conjures through the text portion of the composition. Towards the upper left-hand corner we can read “Sorry Charlie D. I don’t believe in such a theory” and “gee is that me?” under a Darwinian-style illustration of human evolution. Logan’s playful tone further dethrones the European dominance that he believes has translated itself into various aspects of culture and thought throughout North America. 

Learn more about Jim Logan here.

Take a virtual tour of the Sistine Chapel here.

Gallery Intern, Gabriella, stands next to Logan's large-scale piece on display in the Locate exhibition. 

Artwork Wednesday: Jude Griebel

Artwork Wednesday: Jude Griebel

This week’s Artwork Wednesday is dedicated to Jude Griebel’s works from his book “Footsteps in The Macaulay House,” inspired by his Klondike Institute of Art and Culture (KIAC) residency. The three pieces “Shadow-like things, out of the corner of my eye,” “Last night I had another visitation” and “I suddenly stepped into a dark forest in which I was uninvited,” are currently on display in the Locate exhibition. Focusing on themes of psychology and transformation, Griebel’s haunting visuals are inspired by ghost stories from the Macaulay House where the artist completed his KIAC hosted residency. It was an ideal subject matter as Griebel’s work is, in his words, “continually an interplay between the imagination and the physical world, and depicts instances in which these two spaces overlap.”

Located in Dawson City on Princess and 7th Avenue, the Macaulay House was originally the home of the first mayor of Dawson City before finally becoming property of Parks Canada. At one point in its history, the building was developed by the Yukon government as a household for troubled youth, and was temporarily the home to young Daniel Hummel who would later be convicted for murder. Griebel became interested in the rumoured paranormal presence and was accepted by KIAC to complete his project in 2007. In his publish book “Footsteps in The Macaulay House,” Griebel illustrates the ghost stories associate with the house and describes tenant experiences.


Griebel corresponded with past artists and collected their encounters. These three exhibited works from Griebel’s book reflect these accounts of shadowy figures occasionally scene by resident artists. “I suddenly stepped into a dark forest in which I was uninvited,” depicts one account described as a ‘heavy feeling, like having to push through brush in a forest.’ Through experiences such as these, Griebel came to realize the two most commonly referenced sites of supernatural presence in the house were the staircase and two upstairs bedrooms. The rocking chair depicted in “Shadow-like things, out of the corner of my eye,” is a known fixture found in one of these bedrooms. Done in oil on paper, Griebel’s stylistic choice in using golden hues emulates the feeling of melancholy that many of the residents spoke of. Compositionally, the perspective of each work positions the viewer to feel as though we have suddenly come across the figures ourselves. Griebel achieves this through focussing his shadowed figures in full light, as if a door has swung open to reveal the unanticipated guests.  While many did not have such vivid experiences such as these, the consensus from Griebel’s correspondence was that the Macaulay House held an unnerving presence that left its residents tense.

To learn more about Jude Griebel, visit the artist’s website here.
For more information on KIAC residencies visit here