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Contemporary Art Gallery

555 Nelson Street
Vancouver, Canada
Open from Tuesday to
Sunday 12 pm → 6 pm

Admission always free
28 Oct 95until9 Dec 95

Nations in Urban Landscapes

Faye Heavyshield, Shelley Niro, Eric Roberson

555 Hamilton St

A close-up photo of a shell sculpture mounted on a white gallery wall. On the black surface of the round-shaped shell, the word ANCESTRAL is curved to show the mother-of-pearl inside.

The exhibit organizers and artists honour the legitimacy of hybrid aboriginal communities in Vancouver and other urban landscapes, and the importance of the histories of aboriginal peoples displaced from traditional lands. At the same time we acknowledge what is now called Vancouver as the territories of the Coast Salish Nation: Tsleil-Waututh (Burrard), Musqueam, Squamish.

The title of this exhibit, Nations in Urban Landscapes represents a strategy to metaphorically locate First Nations outside of the demarcated space of Indian reserves, traditional territories and the "Indian" land question — that is, outside the space where aboriginal people are "officially" recognized as having authority and expertise. Within this political terrain of First Nations/ Canadian relations, the conventions of authenticity, origins and tradition have emerged as a measuring stick for "Indianness." In contrast, the work of Faye HeavyShield, Shelly Niro and Eric Robertson reflect stratified and discontinuous histories, historical displacement, breaks in familial lineage, the impossibility of transcendent traditions, and the blurred edges of their legally, socially and politically defined aboriginal identities. All three artists undermine current "romantic" notions of the authentic Indian as a steward of the land or the official keeper of culture and spirituality, revealing instead the hybrid nature of contemporary aboriginal life. This exhibit, then, is not about how artists of aboriginal ancestry straddle the constructed monoliths of Western and aboriginal cultures. Rather, it speaks to the way in which these individual artists constantly negotiate the shifting boundaries of their aboriginal communities.

Faye HeavyShield currently works in Calgary and is a member of the Kainai of the Blackfoot Nation.

Shelley Niro lives and works and lives in Brantford and is a Bay of Quinte Mohawk from the Six Nations Reserve.

Eric Robertson was born and raised in Vancouver and is of Euro-Canadian and Gitxsan heritage. He lives and works in Montreal, and is currently under contract as a Fine Arts instructor at the En'owkin Centre in the Okanagan Territory.

Paul Chaat Smith is a Comanche writer who lives in Washington, D.C. He was born in west Texas and has lived in Oklahoma, Maryland, South Dakota, San Francisco and New York. His book "Like a Hurricane," coauthored with Robert Allen.

Marcia Crosby is a 3rd generation "urban Indian" of Haida and Tsimshian ancestry. She lives and works in Vancouver and Massett, Haida Gwaii as an art historian and curator, and a researcher and negotiator for aboriginal education in public institutions.

This exhibition and symposium have been made possible with support from the Canadian Native Arts Foundation and VanCity Credit Union.

Guest curated by Marcia Crosby