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Successful symposium


Organizers of the province’s first Indigenous Arts Symposium are beyond pleased with the event.

The symposium titled “To Light the Fire”, was held at Hotel North I and II in Happy Valley-Goose Bay Nov. 19-22.

Over the multi-day event there were four demonstrations in slipper/moccasin sewing, indigenous doll making, bone carving, and drum making. Each were partially hands-on, and participants could take part in the creation process of example pieces with the demonstrator’s guidance.

Also featured were five discipline specific workshops: music led by Stephen Lilly, dance led by Julia Blanchard and Arlene White Blanchard – two Mi’kmaq fancy shawl dancers, film led by the NFB’s Kat Baulu and filmmaker Isabella Rose Weetaluktuk, multimedia led by Inez Shiwak, and an interactive one on throat singing led by The Blake Sisters.

There was also an art exhibition held at the Kin Centre throughout the symposium called SakKijâjuk: Inuit Fine Art and Craft from Nunatsiavut. Exhibition curator Heather Igloliorte said over 80 artists included their work in the exhibition for a total of about 180 pieces.

Artists sold over $10,000 of their creations during the weekend, she said.

She said it’s also exciting that a selection of work from the exhibition will be added to collections at The Rooms Provincial Art Gallery.

“The pieces were chosen based on how they would fit into (The Rooms) exhibition,” she said.

The collections will be featured at The Rooms in the fall of 2016, Igloliorte said, and will coincide with the Inuit Studies Conference to be held in St. John’s. The exhibition will tour nationally following its St. John’s opening at The Rooms.

A native of Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Igloliorte is an assistant professor of Aboriginal Art History at Montreal’s Concordia University.

She said artists were thrilled to have their work included in the exhibition and have an opportunity to visit Happy Valley-Goose Bay to see their work alongside other artists.

The exhibition is what led to the symposium, Igloliorte said.

“We thought if we are bringing all these people in (to Happy Valley-Goose Bay) for the exhibition, we should also have an arts conference,” she said.

The symposium titled “To Light the Fire”, was held at Hotel North I and II in Happy Valley-Goose Bay Nov. 19-22.

Over the multi-day event there were four demonstrations in slipper/moccasin sewing, indigenous doll making, bone carving, and drum making. Each were partially hands-on, and participants could take part in the creation process of example pieces with the demonstrator’s guidance.

Also featured were five discipline specific workshops: music led by Stephen Lilly, dance led by Julia Blanchard and Arlene White Blanchard – two Mi’kmaq fancy shawl dancers, film led by the NFB’s Kat Baulu and filmmaker Isabella Rose Weetaluktuk, multimedia led by Inez Shiwak, and an interactive one on throat singing led by The Blake Sisters.

There was also an art exhibition held at the Kin Centre throughout the symposium called SakKijâjuk: Inuit Fine Art and Craft from Nunatsiavut. Exhibition curator Heather Igloliorte said over 80 artists included their work in the exhibition for a total of about 180 pieces.

Artists sold over $10,000 of their creations during the weekend, she said.

She said it’s also exciting that a selection of work from the exhibition will be added to collections at The Rooms Provincial Art Gallery.

“The pieces were chosen based on how they would fit into (The Rooms) exhibition,” she said.

The collections will be featured at The Rooms in the fall of 2016, Igloliorte said, and will coincide with the Inuit Studies Conference to be held in St. John’s. The exhibition will tour nationally following its St. John’s opening at The Rooms.

A native of Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Igloliorte is an assistant professor of Aboriginal Art History at Montreal’s Concordia University.

She said artists were thrilled to have their work included in the exhibition and have an opportunity to visit Happy Valley-Goose Bay to see their work alongside other artists.

The exhibition is what led to the symposium, Igloliorte said.

“We thought if we are bringing all these people in (to Happy Valley-Goose Bay) for the exhibition, we should also have an arts conference,” she said.

ArtsNL executive director Reg Winsor agreed the symposium was a great idea.

The symposium was a partnership between the Nunatsiavut Government, NunatuKavut, Miawpukek First Nation, Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation, the Sheshatshiu Innu First Nation, and ArtsNL.

The event, which drew over 125 registrants, is part of a series of initiatives that ArtsNL is undertaking to celebrate its 35th anniversary.

During the evenings, there were events scheduled to share indigenous art created or performed by symposium participants while the film festival showcased six documentaries and short films that focused on a variety of indigenous cultures, subject matter, and regions.

There was also a performance showcase featuring storyteller Joe Goudie, the Inuit throat singers, the drum group Eastern Owl, and the Innu band Meshikamau.

Winsor said the symposium’s panel discussions and presentations were designed to grow participant skill sets relating to the business aspects of being a professional artist (topics included taxation, commerce, media pitching, and social media).

“The schedule of events and activities was very full, but all of the symposium participants we spoke with as the event unfolded continued to have high energy and were excited and thankful for the variety of opportunities that were on offer,” he said.

“The artists that attended were anxious to start applying the new skills they learned to their professional practice, and follow leads that were created as a result of networking.”

The opening and closing keynote addresses were given by Ontario College of Art and Design’s Ryan Rice and Nova Scotia College of Art and Design’s Carla Taunton. Winsor said Rice spoke about the importance of naming ones craft, and how artists play an important educational role with the public — teaching them about culture and traditions, as well as about their craft itself and so for these reasons it is imperative to produce quality work. 

Taunton summarized the symposium brilliantly, Winsor said, and acknowledged that participants had indeed “lit the fire” and now it would be important for everyone to continue to keep it lit.

Winsor said during the symposium the organizers heard from artists that they sometimes experienced challenges in getting the word out about their work.

“Many expressed that they had discovered some new creative ways to do that following the sessions that were focused on marketing, media, and social media,” he said.

Another challenge discussed, he said, was access to materials for professional artists to use in the creation of their work.

“Some innovative suggestions were made in response to that including the idea of establishing a network or bank to connect artists with a shared inventory of supplies” he said.

Igloliorte agreed that the symposium was a great success.

“I’m just so pleased with how everything went. From what I can tell, everyone else was really happy about it, too.”

 

danette@nl.rogers.com

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