UBCO hosts seventh annual Indigenous Art residency

Site/ation, a laser etching on satin ribbon with wax, created by Tania Willard.

Site/ation, a laser etching on satin ribbon with wax, created by Tania Willard.

Month-long program offers courses, lectures, art shows and creative opportunities

UBC Okanagan’s Indigenous Art Intensive gathers artists, curators, writers, students and scholars to engage in contemporary ideas and dialogue rooted in Indigenous contemporary art. Since 2014 the intensive has been offered at UBC Okanagan, located on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the Syilx Okanagan Nation.

This year’s online Indigenous Art Intensive broadly engages the theme Site/ation, explains Tania Willard, assistant professor of visual arts in the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies. Participants will discuss ideas and ways to connect to place through Indigenous territoriality – to be grounded in land, voice and language, and reconnect to nurturing traditions and beyond.

The intensive also features a series of world-renowned speakers, a variety of related undergraduate and graduate credit courses including English, Indigenous studies, sound art, creative writing, and performance and studio arts.

“Indigenous contemporary art is a driving force of culture, exhibition and enriched programming,” says Willard, who is director of the intensive. “Our annual program brings together leaders, communities, students and scholars for deep conversations about the ways in which we learn through creative practice and contribute to wider communities.”

The month-long intensive has hosted many celebrities, such as the late performance artist legend James Luna and established leaders in Canadian contemporary art like Rebecca Belmore, Lori Blondeau and Adrian Stimson. In recent years, up to 25 artists and 200 students have participated in the intensive, sharing unique experiences like readings on the beach of Okanagan Lake, harvesting local berries, artistic exhibitions and an Indigenous hip-hop show in downtown Kelowna.

Taking place in May and June, the intensive will be online and feature artists creating new works and sharing those with UBCO students during class time. Exhibitions will include a showing in the FINA Gallery at UBCO and one in a unique mobile Indigenous art gallery at the Rotary Centre for the Arts (RCA). These are in partnership with the RCA and the Thompson Okanagan Tourist Association.

Panels, artist talks and keynotes will delve into curatorial practice, decolonial aesthetics, land-based teachings, practices and performance. All of these sessions will be available to the public online via live stream and recorded videos.

This year’s artists include Scott Benesiinaabandan, Roxanne Charles, Camille Georgeson-Usher, Maureen Gruben, Suzanne Kite, Peter Morin, Christine Howard Sandoval, Kristabelle Stewart and Madeline Terbasket. Live-streamed keynote addresses will feature Leanne Betamasosake Simpson, Jolene Rickard and Bonaventure Ndikung.

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