our future is in the land:
if we listen to it. 2017-2018


“Our environment is constantly shifting. Unclean drinking water, the rapid melting of the polar ice caps, chemical contaminated lakes are a few examples of the finite nature of water and the catastrophe we are facing. Our survival and our continuation as a people are tied to Indigenous knowledge of the land and a return or an extension of these land-based practices is what will bring us into the future.” This solo show includes the handpainted images that are black lit with the massive two panel projection our future is in the land: if we listen to it.

“I remember the first time I watched julie nagam draw. She was about seven months pregnant and was perched atop a toolbox mapping out an archival diagram/map of the Humber River Valley on the wall of a gallery. Though I worried as she strained her small frame, dancing on tippy-toes to apply a sepia wash on the upper reaches of the wall, I was equally mesmerized by her seemingly intuitive and embodied awareness of line, shape, and form. The deep relationship and knowledge of her body to her materials, both conceptual and practical, was distinctive—she had a mission, an imperative to achieve, and an equally important story to recount. As I witnessed in awe, I was simultaneously saddened, conscious that her drawing had a fixed life span. Regardless, her actions and intent still live there now several years later and under countless layers of paint. She returns to draw the viewer in again, bringing many affective teachings and knowledges into being.”

- Cheryl L’Hirondelle

OUR FUTURE IS IN THE LAND: if we listen to it.
Smithsonian, New York, NY. 2017

This immersive installation is a 360 experience with both sounds and visuals. In this work I am interested in exploring landscapes that appear to be telling the viewer a story visually and through sound. The land has the ability to retain memories of significant value as it has bore witness spanning millennia to the individual events and occurrences that have shaped our surroundings as Indigenous people and later newcomers. Our environment is constantly shifting and examples of unclean drinking water, the rapid melting of the polar ice caps, chemical contaminated lakes. Our land is rife with examples of the finite nature of water and the catastrophe we are facing and these issues affect our society as a whole and in particular Indigenous communities that are greatly influenced by our changing climate and polluted water tables. I am interested in this complex relationship with our past and how it will affect our future. The fifteen-minute sound piece contains ambient and nature sounds, which creates an immersive and circular affect. The images of the birch trees are hand drawn at large scale and digitally transferred into an image that is then printed onto projection fabric that is stretched onto a wood frame and hung like a large painting. This aspen parkland vegetation invokes a forest inside the space by each trunk of the tree being lit up moving in the direction of the sun east to west and sometimes up and down. Hand-drawn images of the prairie wolf (coyote), the blue dragon fly, and whippoorwill bird that appear in different spots or move through the forest that have be animated to create an immersive feeling. At the same time the sound work is playing with the knowledge and sounds of the land attempting to bring the connection from the to the land and the stories told through an outline of the forest. The images projected will bring different stories to life, making animals or objects from the sound pieces that become alive and move throughout the space. The natural environment is featured such as water trickling down, the wind and movement of the trees and leafs, there will be sounds of people walking or crunching through the snow or branches. You will hear the sounds of the animals within the ecosystem of crickets, frogs and birds in the background. The elder and knowledge keeper explain the importance of these animals and the forest that is their home and is the key to our future survival.

GLAM Collective
(Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums)