Daphne Mennell: Chilkoot Trail

Chilkoot Trail is an exhibit iconic to those who have hiked the trail, or have ever dreamed of hiking the trail. Yukon artist Daphne Mennell vibrantly renders trail milestones in paint, including "Beaver Pond" and the Parks Canada warming cabin, a happy site for weary hikers who just completed the "Golden Stairs". Inspired by her 2014 Chilkoot Trail Artist Residency, Chilkoot Trail interprets her journey through paintings and sketches of the landscapes she encountered.

  

Left: Hikers along Crater Lake, 2014-2018. Oil on canvas. 40 x 60 in.

Right: The Boardwalks. Walk This Way, 2014-2018. Oil on canvas. 48 x 60 in.

Image above: Welcome to Canada, 2014-2018. Oil on canvas. 24 x 40 in.

"I love, and so chose to focus on the natural diversity of the trail. In its short span one travels through three major eco regions; the coastal forest, the alpine, and the montane/boreal forest. I was excited by the challenge I would face trying to describe it, and knew that I would grow artistically in the process."
- Daphne Mennell

Mennell is a local Yukon artist, whose work often focuses on the Northern landscapes she calls home. Daphne is perhaps most well known for her "The House" sculpture which sits atop Two-Mile Hill, and has evolved to become a Yukon landmark. For more information about Daphne Mennell, visit her website HERE

Chilkoot Trail opens alongside Audible Landscapes in the Yukon Arts Centre Public Gallery, June 7, 5:30-7:30.

 

Audible Landscape: Select Work from the Chilkoot Trail Artist Residency

Audible Landscapes brings together select artworks by four former Chilkoot Trail artists-in-residence including, Michelle Latimer, Steve Snell, Anthony Wallace, and Julie Zhu. As both lived experience and historic subject, the Chilkoot Trail provides an inspiring backdrop for the audio-visual explorations in this exhibition. At the poetic intersection of film, sound, and installation, these works incite reflection on the dynamics of space and the socio-cultural significance of place.  The viewer is invited to move through the exhibition, and slow down the practice of looking to consider how the environment and its histories may influence the creative process. As one pauses to see, hear and feel the works’ reverberations, a nuanced soundscape of the historic trail is revealed.

Utilizing archival footage within filmic montage as a means of storytelling, both Latimer and Snell’s videos are situated at the borders of documentary and fiction. As a tribute to First Nations, Métis and Inuit women, Latimer’s film Nimmikaage (She Dances for People) offers a challenging reassessment of the colonial lens and powerful message of Indigenous resilience. Snell’s Some Videos from the Wild West portrays a collection of (non)fictional chronicles steeped in stampeder history and defining moments of the hiker’s journey. Both Zhu and Wallace’s interdisciplinary approaches combine musical composition with visual elements to echo their time on the trail. While Zhu’s accordion book of expressive drawing acts as the score for her music recorded on cassette, Wallace’s violin-playing and hand-crafted instruments provide tonality for the soundtrack arrangement of his moving images. The sights and sounds in this selection of artwork ricochets and resounds in space, leaving us to ponder the poetics of hiking the Chilkoot Trail.

 

Left: Anthony Wallace, Still from Remnant Vibrations, 2017-2018. Two-channel video projection, 10 min 45 sec.

Right: Julie Zhu, Temper (accordian book), 2017. Mo ink, pen on rice paper.

Michelle Latimer

Michelle Latimer is the showrunner, director, and writer of the breakout Indigenous resistance series RISE (Viceland), which premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival and went on to screen internationally. Her latest film Nuuca (executive produced by Laura Poitras) premiered at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival and screened at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. Her films have screened at film festivals internationally, including Sundance, TIFF, Berlinale, Rotterdam, ImagineNATIVE, Aspen Shorts, Oberhausen and Cannes, and her work has been acquired by National Gallery of Canada. In 2013, Michelle was selected by Playback Magazine as one of Canada’s Top Ten Filmmakers to Watch, and the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) recently named her among the “Great Canadian Filmmakers of the Future”. Michelle is of Métis/Algonquin descent and much of her work is dedicated to the pursuit of Indigenous rights and sovereignty.

Featured work: The film, Nimmikaage (She Dances for People), remembers and honours Canada’s First Nations, Métis and Inuit women through dismantling the underlying layers embedded in archival images of Canadian nationalism. The film is comprised of juxtapositions of visually absorbing images of nature with footage of Indigenous women enacting traditional roles for audiences. Through ceaselessly interchanging wide shots of crowds, which represent the audiences these films were made for, and evocatively personal portraits of Indigenous women and girls, Nimmikaage inverts the lens of colonialism and asserts a rebalance of power structures. Tanya Tagaq provides an emotive soundtrack that further reaffirms the persisting resilience of Indigenous women. Created shortly after her residency in 2015, Latimer notes this film was “very much inspired by that journey.”

Steve Snell

Steve Snell is inspired by local history, myth, and the image of the American west. He calls his work adventure art. It is in an effort to create heroic narratives for the present day or at least project images of them. This adventure and community-based practice has led him to variety of experiences, ranging from floating the Connecticut River in a couch-boat to a random encounter with Alec Baldwin while hiking across Western Massachusetts. Steve has been an Artist-in-Residence at the Teton ArtLab in Jackson, WY, the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve in Chase County, KS, and along the Chilkoot Trail in Alaska and British Columbia. Steve earned his M.F.A. in Studio Art from the University of Massachusetts Amherst (2011) as well as a B.F.A. in Painting / B.S. in Art Education from Miami University (2006). He currently is an Assistant Professor of Art in the Foundation Department at the Kansas City Art Institute.

Featured work: Some Videos from the Wild West: The Chilkoot Trail is a video series of things seen and stories heard from across the North American landscape. Everything is true or at least possibly true. This particular chapter focuses on the Chilkoot Trail of Alaska and Canada, made famous during the Klondike Gold Rush.

Anthony Wallace

Anthony Wallace is a composer, sound artist and filmmaker. His musical pursuits have taken him on adventures in West Africa where he studied hand percussion and drum construction, to the far north in the Arctic Circle making installations in canyons and down south to the Caribbean to produce dance music. He is the Producer and Co-director of The Peel Project, an interdisciplinary Feature Documentary and touring Art Exhibit exploring six artists journey through the Peel River Watershed in the Yukon and Northwest Territories. Anthony’s music has been played on the CBC radio, his sound installations have toured nationally and he has worked on film/TV productions for CBC, APTN, Vision TV and Historica Canada. Anthony obtained an Honours BFA in composition from York University and is the founder of Studio 110 a multimedia production company based out of Toronto.

Featured work: Remnant Vibrations is one iteration of the work Anthony Wallace has developed since his residency in 2017. Activated by the viewer’s physical presence within the installation space, the two-channel video projections trace the artist’s site-specific performances and sound installations along the trail. Travelling with minimal artistic supplies (wire, fishing line, clamps, guitar machine heads), Wallace constructed two instruments during his residency, including a wind-playing Aeolian Harp assembled on the summit of the Chilkoot Pass, and a re-invented harp fastened to the historic gold rush era steel boiler. The sounds acquired by the latter, along with Wallace’s composition for violin, poignantly coalesce as a duet and contribute to work’s soundtrack, an ebb and flow of crescendos and pauses that support Wallace’s visuals. The recreation of the Aeolian Harp in the centre of of his installation, like the artifacts found as remnants of the Chilkoot’s past, pay b homage to what is seen and heard on the screens, all of which are Remnant Vibrations of Wallace’s time on the trail.

Julie Zhu

Julie Zhu is a composer and carillonneur whose work lies at an intersection of music, mathematics, and visual representation.  Zhu is the resident carillonneur at Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue in New York City, and has performed and exhibited throughout Europe and America.  Zhu’s compositional practice spans painting, sculpture, installation, performance art, in relation to contemporary classical music.  Since 2012, Zhu has taught an interdisciplinary approach to painting, drawing, and design, in artist residencies in public schools and summer camps in Alaska.

Featured work: Julie Zhu created accordion books to reflect the landscape and journey of the Chilkoot Trail during her residency in 2016.  The folded, continuous pages act as both sketchbook and music composition.  Through the expressive drawings, Zhu explores the emotional notation of a visual score and embeds linear time into the practice of viewing. Off the trail, Zhu composed a piece for flute and piano titled, I enter my room again, recalling the notion of returning, and the meditation in a kind of studio or mind following a journey. The visual scores were further reinterpreted through musical improvisations, resulting in provocative, experimental compositions as heard on the cassette player. The medium of cassette lends physicality and a lo-fi aesthetic to the recordings as the winding tape mirrors Zhu’s mark-making.

To listen to I enter my room again,  follow this link: https://soundcloud.com/juliejzhu/i-enter-my-room-again

 

The Chilkoot Trail Artist Residency is a cross‐border creative journey within Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, Alaska and Chilkoot Trail National Historic Site in British Columbia. Each year three artists are selected to hike the trail over a two-week period, engaging with its history and ecology through interaction with hikers and developing artwork based on their experience. Founded in 2011, the program is presented in partnership with the Yukon Arts Centre, Parks Canada, US National Parks Service, and Skagway Arts Council.