Metis art in Prince Albert fosters cultural awareness and understanding
SASKATOON -- Large outdoor installations around Prince Albert are brightening up the community and promoting awareness and acceptance of Metis values and culture.
Onlooker Liz Settee has seen all five of the exhibits and said she appreciates the colourful displays this summer.
"It's also one step closer to reconciliation. Everybody can see them. You don't have to be at a certain place at a certain time to see this and if it captures your interest you can get out and look at it.”
Settee said the exhibits help educate the public about Metis culture and encourage pride in values and ancestry.
"A lot of the values we've lost over the years. And this is just reigniting the flame to bring them back in an artistic way," Settee said.
The art is product of the Inter-generational Metis Artist Mentorship Project. It was facilitated by the Mann Art Gallery and sponsored by an Aboriginal Arts and Culture Leadership grant from SaskCulture.
The project brought accomplished artist and author Leah Dorion together with young, local artist Danielle Castle. The aim of the apprentice and mentor project is to transfer Metis cultural and artistic knowledge within the community, similar to relationships that would have occurred organically generations ago.
Castle is also learning from Dorion how to produce public art installations. She is a self-taught artist who was interested in learning more about her Metis ancestry and art from Dorion.
"I knew it would be very vital in my own self-growth to really connect with my roots. And it all just worked out by getting this apprenticeship. Leah is full of knowledge. And I’ve learned so much already,” said Castle.
Dorion and Castle produced five temporary displays including: a Metis Sidewalk Mural, a Living Giving Tree, a Willow Labyrinth, Riverbank Buffalo Herd and Wind Horse.
Animals once used by Metis people are featured in some of the exhibits such as bison and horses. Social values are written on the backs of animals.
The painted cut-outs are displayed in easily accessible public, outdoor areas such as the North Saskatchewan riverbank Rotary Trail and the grassy area near the Art Hauser Centre.
"The Metis culture and traditions have used the animals for multiple things. Like the bison you can take meat, you can use the hide, you can take the sinew. And horses too they've carried us. They've helped us travel across the land,” said Castle.