Opimihaw (2021 | Wanuskewin, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan)
The recent re-introduction of bison into traditional territories holds the potential for profound outcomes from both a human and natural history point of view. Inspired by the diversity of life in the prairie landscape, new installations celebrate the restoration of bison to the area as well as acknowledge the importance of the diversity of species to the tapestry of the great northern plains.
Expiration of species is not a new thing…many have been exploited to satisfy market demands internationally; others have disappeared as collateral damage. Whether it was the extermination of beaver and bison, or the collapse of coastal fish stocks, the impacts on Indigenous cultures have been intense. Beavers were secretly resilient and in the hidden waterways and pockets of wilderness in our vast country, managing to rebuild their population from decimation of past centuries. Other beasts, such as bison, have needed a helping hand.
Restoration has been a long time coming. With the concerted efforts of dedicated individuals and communities working with a variety of species at risk, these creatures are once more able to graze, burrow, chew, swim and fly through their traditional territories. Likewise, there have been concerted efforts to bring the many facets of Canadian Indigenous history to light in order to address past injustices and forge new policies for the way ahead.
Inspired by there initiatives, the works in this exhibition examine the interconnectedness of species and celebrate the restorative powers of the land and the qualities of resilience within ourselves.
From Wanuskewin Heritage Park:
Kwakiutl sculptor Mary Anne Barkhouse visited Wanuskewin in the summer of 2019, and was inspired by the ecology of the Opimihaw Valley. Incorporating past works with brand new pieces, Opimihaw will showcase the themes of reconciliation, restoration, healing, and the integrity and strength in the human and natural ‘ecosystems’.
More information on the Wanuskewin website.
(IMAGES: Courtesy of Carey Shaw for Wanuskewin)
MAY 22 – NOVEMBER 5, 2021