Reconciling Edmonton brings together four collaborators: Anna Marie Sewell, Miranda Jimmy, Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail and Jennie Vegt – two Indigenous, two settler – to explore the intersections of these threads of history in the city through public art. Too often Edmonton’s story is presented as one of pioneers, homesteaders and settlement that ends with the Second World War.
In addition, textbooks, heritage institutions, and popular media have also relegated Indigenous Peoples to the distant past. We want to help shift these perspectives through visual art and poetry grounded in the historic record. What were moments when Indigenous individuals and settlers came together in Edmonton’s past? What can we learn from how they were photographed and documented?
The result of Reconciling Edmonton is seven historical images, seven paintings, and seven pieces of poetry inspired by the community. These represent seven generations – roughly the 150 years since the late Fort Edmonton period and Treaty Six signing, as well as the 150 years the Truth and Reconciliation Commission found the Residential School system lasted.
RISE would like the paintings and poetry to travel to various venues for future installations. For exhibit inquiries, please contact email@example.com
Jennie's Artist Statement
In June of 2014 when I was interviewing to be the Artist in Residence for the Office of the City Clerk, one of the questions that came up was if I might address Aboriginal issues in my art. At the time I thought, “Probably not...It's not really my place. I don't really know enough to make art about it...”, etc.
However, after meeting Miranda, Anna Marie Sewell and Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail through RISE and hearing stories from the TRC, I felt inclined to process some of what I was learning through my painting. I began with a portrait of Miranda after she shared her own story with me. The series of seven historical paintings are a bit different and truly collaborative.
As a group, we chose archival photographs* to fit the theme “Intersections of Aboriginal and settler people”. The fact that most images in our City Archives do not have the names of the Aboriginal people documented was problematic, but this historical lack of value of Aboriginal individuals is part of what we work to bring to light.
In creating these paintings, I feel strongly that I have no ownership over the images, so I tried not to overly interpret them. But, by investing hours and effort into the paintings, by putting a little vibrancy into them, or trying to capture expression, I hope to encourage others to linger longer on the images as well.
Unlike the others, the last painting strays more from the photo, as that photo was taken in the present. I am a part of the present. I can help shape what happens today. Some have tried to change the past by sweeping it under the rug, but all we can do is change ourselves and change what's happening now.