Friday, December 3

The Daphne Art Center to build bridges


The first Aboriginal artists’ center in Montreal, the Daphne art center, opens its doors on rue Saint-Hubert. This center, run entirely by Indigenous people, will feature physical exhibits as soon as the pandemic permits. Its activities are open to everyone, Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike. Because that is also what it is about here, to share experiences, and even to strengthen links between different indigenous nations.

“The idea is to build a community, to create resources, for aboriginal artistic communities. It’s an interest that has existed for a long time, we thought about it in individual or collective conversations. […] Now, the weather seemed good to us, we said to ourselves: “let’s take the step”, and then there are programs to support this kind of project ”, says artist Hannah Claus, one of the founders of the Center. daphne art, with Nadia Myre, Caroline Monnet and Skawennati. For some time now, these four women have been meeting to talk about their art, their projects and opportunities to work together.

This year, the centre’s programming will welcome Indigenous artists from Quebec. We plan to host the Wendat Teharihulen Michel Savard, the Attikamek Catherine Boivin, the Innue Sonia Robertson, and the Mohawk Kaia’tanò: ron Dumoulin Bush.

“We also want to show that nations are very different from each other, create relationships and dialogues between them, and show the general public that there is this plurality that exists,” says Hannah Claus.

“We are trying to create a center that will be a positive place to help people show what they do with pride and present them well in a context that resembles them. “

Better representation

This center will undoubtedly make it possible to give better visibility to native artists from here, who have so far been poorly represented, especially in museums. We remember, for example, the outcry over the erection of a totem pole by Charles Joseph, from the Kwakiutl nation, from British Columbia, representing Aboriginal reality in front of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

“On the Quebec scene, native arts are still marginalized. There is, in fact, a certain discrimination within large institutions, including museums, write France Trépanier and Mylène Guay in an article in the book Horizons and estuaries: between memories and creations indigenous, recently published by Éditions Somme tout.

“It will be necessary to wait until 2017 for Quebec to grant a place to indigenous cultures in its cultural policy”, they also write.

Until then, indigenous arts were too often considered primarily ethnographic objects or crafts, note the authors.

“In addition to the permanent exhibitions highlighting the history of the past in an anthropological way, contemporary Indigenous arts are represented sporadically, and preferably by showcasing renowned Indigenous artists from the English-speaking Canadian community to attract a larger audience,” they still write.

The Daphne Art Center is named in memory of Anichinabe artist Daphne Odjig, who founded Canada’s first Indigenous cultural center in Winnipeg in 1973.

“This was long before the current artist-run center systems,” says Hannah Claus. In Winnipeg, Daphne Odjig and her friend had a printing store and in the back they had set up a space to show their art. “His colleagues worked at the back, there were among others Norval Morrisseau and Alex Janvier, adds Hannah Claus. They made room for the others to be in their exhibits. They kept a small part of their sales to young people ”, to support artistic practice.

Hannah Claus explains that the Daphne Art Center is also inspired by, among others, the Urban Shaman Center in Winnipeg.

While waiting for the center to really open its doors, you can access beadwork activities online, under the title “Bead, talk”.

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