Edward Poitras: “Treaty Four Monument #2”, Photo by Grant A Kernan
Edward Poitras: Revolution in the Rock Garden / Révolution dans le jardin de rocaille
A Treaty Four Art Action / Une action artistique sur le Traité no 4
Organized as a partnership project between the Moose Jaw Museum & Art Gallery, the Art Gallery of Swift Current, Esplanade Arts & Heritage Centre (Medicine Hat, AB), Godfrey Dean Art Gallery (Yorkton, SK), and New Dance Horizons Rouge-Gorge. Funding support for this project is provided by the Government of Canada and the Department of Canadian Heritage.
Exposition organisée par le Moose Jaw Museum & Art Gallery, en partenariat avec l’Art Gallery of Swift Current, la Godfrey Dean Art Gallery (Yorkton, SK), l’Esplanade Arts and Heritage Centre (Medicine Hat, AB) et la compagnie New Dance Horizons Rouge-gorge. Le soutien financier de ce projet a été fourni par le gouvernement du Canada et le ministère du Patrimoine canadien.
A Treaty Four Art Action in four acts within the border of Treaty Four Territory in four galleries in four locations. The works in this exhibition are inspired by the history of this place and objects made by nature and human beings relative to this territory. A treaty, a few rocks, bones, monuments made and monuments destroyed. Toppled, blown up and ground into history. Sometimes forgotten and lost in time, only to resurface in the erosion of dominant narratives. Made anew in words, remade into forms and given new meaning. My story.
The first site and exhibition will be south of the South Saskatchewan River in Swift Current at The Swift Current Art Gallery. A space designed by my former father in-law, the late Clifford Wiens who grew up in this area, east of this site in a place called Glen Kerr. What we both shared, aside from becoming related, was a love for the wide-open spaces of the prairie and an appreciation for minimalism. The solitary rock and clear blue sky. A rock heart.
An interesting point of treaty making was the idea of becoming related. Becoming brothers, sisters, adopting new parents and children. The old ones becoming grandparents. The Great Grandmother who would become just “Queen” by 1890 when it became clear that this was not how it was understood by the other. Becoming her “red children” and placed in small spaces and told that it was for their own good. For their own protection from those who would harm and take all that they owned.
This exhibition will look at the treaty and a monument built to remind people of this event. An obelisk in the town of Fort Qu’Appelle, a project initiated by the artist Edmond Morris, the son of Alexander Morris who had negotiated Treaty four on behalf of the Queen in 1874 at this location. His initial idea was to use a sacred rock, a black meteorite from Alberta. He had noticed, that Indigenous people had respect for objects such as this. Giving them offerings of tobacco, cloth and other items of value. The most appropriate word for describing objects like this is Numina, an object imbued with spirit. Mistassini was one such rock. If the offerings are accepted by the Numina, the experience is Numen. Latin for the “Devine Nod”. A literal translation.
The works in this exhibition will consider this phenomena and sites that have been disrupted and destroyed. With the idea of replacement. Edmond Morris died before he could see the result of his intention and a committee would oversee the construction of an obelisk in its place. Which I believe he would have disapproved had he lived. I would like to propose an alternative to this and a couple of other significant sites that no longer exist. A couple of maquette’s for consideration.
An art action along the South Saskatchewan alongside Swift Current Creek. A historic event called “Gordons Loop”, named after George Gordon, the first Chief of my First nation who was signatory on Treaty Four. This event is mentioned in Isaac Cowie’s book, “A company of Adventures” It is a strategic position that is defensible and inaccessible from three sides. I would like to create a rock cairn there with a plaque commemorating this event. All so an arrangement of rocks depicting the logo of “Extinction Rebellion”, maybe, or something else. Probably having to do with the solstice and other celestial points of significance. Or maybe something from pop culture. Like “Coca-Cola. Depending on possible sponsorship.
Each exhibition in this series would be along these lines and combined together as a whole could be considered a limited survey of my work. Which I have never done. There will be a performance component which I will be working on with Robin Poitras. This being a few dance pieces which I hope to be flexible enough to adapt to different presentation possibilities. I have worked in this area with Robin since the early 80’s when we first met.
I will more than likely be giving talks regarding work in exhibition and pieces that no longer exist or cannot be shown for whatever reason. The reason I am doing it this way is to limit the amount of travel I do. Since I have two dogs that have never been in a car and I’m not sure if they would want to travel.
As part of the event on November 4, at 2:00pm, GDAG will present a contemporary dance piece by New Dance Horizons. Entitled THIS, the piece is performed by Prairie-based dance artist Krista Solheim, and will take place in the Land Titles Building.
Following the performance, we will host an artist talk with Edward Poitras in the gallery, and an informal reception to celebrate all of the artists involved.
This will be an afternoon will be filled with exciting performance and unique insights into a significant art exhibition in our community.
This is a free event. Everyone is welcome.
Don’t miss your chance to see it for yourself!
New Dance Horizons (NDH) is a Regina-based not-for-profit organization that since 1986, has presented local and internationally acclaimed dance shows, produced original works, and organized activities that engage both the dance community and the general public.
NDH plays a distinctive and integral role in developing and strengthening the dance community in Saskatchewan. In addition to performance presentation, NDH offers courses, workshops and lectures with guest artists and community events. Thanks to the bold artistic vision and community engagement of acclaimed Canadian artist and co-founder Robin Poitras, NDH has become nationally recognized as a champion of creative dance. NDH offers adventurous and ever-changing dance encounters for everyone.
NDH / Rouge-gorge is a project-based creation production company led by Co-Artistic Directors Robin Poitras C.M. and renowned visual artist Edward Poitras. Launched in 2009, Rouge-gorge is a foundation for research, creation, production and touring. The company produces contemporary dance and performance works by Robin Poitras C.M., Edward Poitras, and guest artists. Traversing between the fields of dance and performance art, Robin’s work brings elements of visual and performance art into an inseparable arena. Intense collaboration with artists in dance, theatre, visual, music, and performance art is a mark of Robin’s creative practice.
Robin Poitras C.M. is one of Saskatchewan’s most prolific dance and performance creators. Creating dance, performance and installation works, she has been actively engaged in contemporary dance practice since the early 80s. For many years Robin has traversed the formal worlds of dance and performance art. She co-founded New Dance Horizons in 1986, with Dianne Fraser where she continues to act as Artistic Director. With an interest in research into diverse fields of artistic and somatic practice she has developed a unique interdisciplinary approach. Robin’s works have been presented across Canada, in Spain, France, Germany, Mongolia and Mexico. She is a recipient of the 2022 Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Medal, 2021 recipient of the Order of Canada, 2016 Lieutenant Governor’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the 2006 Mayor’s Awards for Business & The Arts’ Lifetime Achievement Award, and the 2004 Women of Distinction Award for the Arts.
Edward Poitras is a member of the George Gordon First Nation and resident of Treaty Four Territory. He is an artist who has always recognized his mixed heritage – Métis/Cree/Saulteaux – as a powerful source of energy, creativity and contradiction. Poitras was born in 1953 in Regina. In 1974 he studied with Sarain Stump at the Indian Art Program at the Saskatchewan Indian Cultural College in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan where he was introduced to diverse artistic and philosophical approaches that continue to inform his art practice. In 1975–76, Poitras attended Manitou College in La Macaza, Quebec, where Mexican Aboriginal artist Domingo Cisneros imparted an experimental approach to materials and introduced Poitras to the Quebecois performance art scene. Following this time in Quebec, Poitras taught at the Saskatchewan Indian Cultural College and at the University of Manitoba. During much of the 1980s, he taught at the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College, University of Regina (now First Nations University of Canada). Poitras worked as a graphic designer for New Breed Magazine in the 1980s. Poitras has since remained connected to his community, exhibiting with and mentoring emerging artists through his involvement with groups including Tribe Inc. (Saskatoon), Sâkêwêwak Artists’ Collective (Regina), and New Dance Horizons (Regina).
Since the early 1980s Poitras’ “artistic benchmark [has been] his masterful ability to combine seemingly contradictory materials” such as fiberglass, circuit boards and magnetic tape with bone, horse hair and rawhide. His work examines complex issues of history and identity, and their connection(s) with place. As critic Nancy Tousley observes, his “family and regional history are [often] interwoven with references to the story of Aboriginal people in the Americas.” Themes of colonization, assimilation, integration, genocide, displacement, migration, survival, nationalism and transnationalism permeate his work as he explores tensions, contradictions, narratives and interactions.
Poitras has exhibited extensively across Canada, as well as in the United States and Europe. His selection as the first Aboriginal artist to represent Canada at the prestigious Venice Biennale marks a recognition of his distinctive contribution to the questions of “Identity and Alterity,” the theme of the 1995 Biennale. His other solo exhibitions include: Qu’Appelle: Tales of Two Valleys, Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon (2002); RESIG/NATION, Galerie Le lieu, Quebec City (2000); The Politics of Land, an earthwork at Wanuskewin Heritage Park, Saskatoon (1998); Jaw Rez, Canadian Museum of Civilization, Gatineau and MacKenzie Art Gallery, Regina (1996); Marginal Recession, Dunlop Art Gallery, Regina (1991); Et in America Ego, Art Speak, Vancouver (1989); and Indian Territory, Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon (1988). Among group exhibitions, nearly every major contemporary Native art exhibit since 1980 has featured his work, notably: New Work by a New Generation, MacKenzie Art Gallery, Regina (1982); INDIGENA, Canadian Museum of Civilization, Gatineau (1992); and Close Encounters: The Next 500 Years, Plug In ICA, Winnipeg (2011). Internationally, his work has been shown in Santa Fe, Paris, Munster, Havana, New York and Tampere, Finland. His work may be found in the collections of the Canadian Museum of Civilization, MacKenzie Art Gallery, National Gallery of Canada, and National Museum of the American Indian (Washington, DC), among others.
Throughout his career, Poitras has been instrumental in organizing, producing, and participating in performance art, dance, and theatre works. He has created a number of sets, costumes and light designs in collaboration with various artists, including: Floyd Favel Star, Richard Martel, Benoit Lachambre, Jocelyn Montpetit, Bill Coleman, Boye Ladd, Bruce LaBruce, and Robin Poitras C.M. Edward Poitras is a recipient of the Governor General’s Award in Visual Arts (2002), the Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan Arts Award for Innovation (2005), and a Eiteljorg Fellowship for Native American Fine Art (2009).
In November 2020, Edward joined Robin Poitras C.M. as the Co-Artistic Director of New Dance Horizons.
Krista Solheim is an independent dance artist and movement teacher based in Regina, SK. She received her early dance training at the Youth Ballet Company of Saskatchewan, then completed a BFA in Contemporary Dance from Concordia University in 1998.
Over the past 25 years, Krista has pursued an independent creative, and performative dance practice. As a choreographer, Krista has been active in developing her voice as a soloist. As a performer, she has worked with a range of choreographers from across Canada. Since 2017, Krista has been working with New Dance Horizons Creation Base, NDH/ Rouge-gorge; dancing in the creations of Robin Poitras and Edward Poitras.
Krista is a STOTT PILATES® certified instructor and certified Franklin Method Level Two Educator. She is currently in training for and will complete Franklin Method Level Three in September 2023. Krista has dedicated her life to the research of movement in the body through dance, creation, teaching, and a range of somatic practices.