Allen Sapp, Hauling Logs, n.d.
Sapp was born on the Red Pheasant Reserve of Saskatchewan in 1928. His mother died of tuberculosis when he was very young and he was raised by his grandparents. Sapp’s grandmother taught him to draw during his frequent bouts of illness.
Sapp’s art often deals depicts the contemporary lives of the Northern Plains Cree. He was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1986 for his contributions to Canadian art.
“From the ceramic murals of Jack Sures to Marilyn Levine’s leather boots and bags and from David Gilhooly’s frog mythologies to Joe Fafard’s small-town prairie portraits and Victor Cicansky’s outhouse temples, Regina Clay: Worlds in the Making presents over 130 works by fourteen artists, and examines how—in the late 1960s—clay came into its own as a sculptural medium in Regina and garnered international attention.”
Lake Reflecting Mountains, 2002
“Following an early interest in ceramics, David Thauberger turned to painting, a medium he found more suitable for an exploration of frontality and flatness. His themes and subjects remain closely allied with the landscape and its place in the collective conscious through the iconic images of popular culture. In the large, frontal format the representation of the image becomes synonymous with the image as symbol. The impersonal techniques of smooth surfaces, unmodulated colour and elements from the commercial world (mactac, glitter) are all indicators of the influence popular culture has had upon society’s perception of the landscape. Thauberger’s directness of expression has been strongly influenced by his interest in Saskatchewan folk artists.”
Joi Arcand at Tombstone Territorial Park, Yukon Territory
Interview by Eliza Gregory
Joi Arcand has made some really exciting and incredible work recently about the disappearance of First Nations languages, and it was this project—Here On Future Earth—that first drew me to interviewing her. In the photographs that comprise the project, she has been able to layer subtle humor, vernacular imagery, imagination, and lamentation to pose questions about the evolution—and loss—of culture. When I look at photo-based work these days, I am looking for artists who have something important to say with their pictures, and who use pictures as a starting point for engagement with people and ideas, rather than as an end point. Joi Arcand is certainly doing that, and it was a pleasure to speak with her about her trajectory as an artist, the ideas she is passionate about, and her relationship to the people around her.
Amber Motors, from the series Here on Future Earth, 2009, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Eliza Gregory: I’m so excited about you’re Here on Future Earth project. It is so awesome! I wonder if you could talk a little bit about that project here.
First off, has it had the general impact that you wanted it to? How have you been able to gauge that?
Joi Arcand: Here On Future Earth was inspired by my time spent working at the Saskatchewan Indian Cultural Centre, which represents the 8 First Nations languages that are spoken in the province: Plains Cree, Woodland Cree, Swampy Cree, Dene, Nakawe, Dakota, Lakota, Nakota. I had the privilege of being surrounded by First Nations language specialists and language learning materials every day. Being around people who are speaking their languages everyday and are advocates for their languages inspired me to address this topic in this series. For this project, I worked primarily with Darryl Chamakese who translated all of the words for me. Working on this project led me towards many other people who are working on language revitalization. I’ve received a lot of feedback from people who didn’t know anything about the state of indigenous languages, people who don’t know about the syllabics writing system so I think that the educational impact has been an incredible thing.
Ice Cream Legislature, from the series Here on Future Earth, 2009, Regina, Saskatchewan
EG: It seems to me—as someone whose language is not threatened—that the urgency and the pain of losing a language (or having it be threatened) is something that a lot of people have never considered and may have a hard time understanding. Language has such a profound relationship to culture. I think what’s so powerful about this project is that you illustrate both that relationship, and then what it means to experience this loss of language (and by extension, culture). How does that resonate with the different audiences who are seeing your work?
JA: Language is culture. There are far too many indigenous languages that are either extinct or endangered. Cree has been named one of the three languages that remain ‘viable’ by Statistics Canada; the number of speakers varies from 12,000-75,000. However, I realized that my own inability to speak the language means that in my family, the language is extinct. This realization triggered urgency in me that the time is now to start revitalizing our indigenous languages. So, this journey is a very personal one for me, and if Here On Future Earth educates or informs people about the state of indigenous languages, then I see that as a good thing.