September 25th 2016 to January 8th 2017
Greg Staats: On the Edge of the Woods: Condolence Towards Renewal
Curated by Virginia Eichhorn, Director and Chief Curator
Everyone, at some point in their life, will deal with loss. The loss maybe something private and unknown to no one other than the person who is experiencing it. Others may deal with it in a very public forum. When confronted with someone who has experienced a loss, we are often ill-equipped to deal with it. We are awkward and may fall back on cliché expressions. For previous generations there were protocols and expected ways of behaving when dealing with death, that were ingrained and taught within societies. We have become largely disconnected from those protocols and ceremonies –a systemic loss in and of itself – and we often struggle because of that. That struggle is further complicated when the feelings we are experiencing, what we are mourning, is something that we have been disenfranchised from. We question ourselves and the legitimacy of our reaction in mourning what we have never known but that we feel a disconnect from, regardless. In Greg Staats: on the edge of the woods: condolence towards renewal, Staats calls back to the Condolence Ceremony of the Haudenosuanee for inspiration in the creation of the photographs, sculptures and installations within this exhibition. His family histories and stories provide the sources that he draws upon. His works draw out expressions and visualizations on the loss of home, family and traditions, and how that impacts throughout the generations. While intensely personal, Staats’ works speak to the universal experience of loss and of disconnect from the past, and at the same time offers viewers the opportunity to find a means of acknowledging that loss and finding ways of coming to peace with it. The intentionality of the layout of the exhibition allows the visitor to physically move from site of condolence towards a renewal. Viktor Frankl wrote in Man’s Search for Meaning “Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies growth and freedom.” It is that “space” that Staats addresses through his work, challenging us in our responses to acknowledge our own disconnection, and through it to grow and free ourselves from it. Through those responses, which allow for a reconnection with the past, we can find our condolence.
Greg Staats, Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk), (b. Ohsweken, Six Nations of the Grand River Territory). Solo exhibitions include: McMaster Museum of Art, Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery, Walter Philips Gallery (Banff Centre), Mercer Union, Gallery TPW, Trinity Square Video/Images festival. Group exhibitions include; National Gallery of Canada, Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, Art Gallery of Southern Manitoba and the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts (Santa Fe). Staats is the recipient of the Duke and Duchess of York Prize in Photography. Staats has lived and worked in Toronto since 1985. The artist Greg Staats wishes to acknowledge the generous financial support of The Banff Centre during a thematic residency program, the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario and the Canada Council for the Arts.
Staats’ lens-based work, video installation/performance and sculpture, combines language, mnemonics and the natural world as an ongoing process of visualizing a Haudenosaunee restorative aesthetic that defines relational multiplicities with trauma and renewal. Trauma that is felt from an existential displacement from the Kanien’kehá:ka language and subsequent relational worldview, has motivated recent sequencing within a mnemonic continuum. In place of this systemic linguistic deficit, Staats has assembled and created an archive of images and documents, both personal and familial. Installation works combine, the performative burdens of condolence, renewal and his continuously re-imagined role as observer and participant, in an effort to elevate the mind and countervail complex trauma, dissociation and loss of self. This archive, an externalization of what is carried within the body, a repository, has enabled Staats to move toward renewal in dialogue with the psychic space where the overwhelming is held.
This new body of photographs and installation works combined with earlier works from the beginning my investigation into condolence have a cumulative effect that references the psychological histories of public and private within a Haudenosaunee linguistic and mnemonic continuum linked to place. At the edge of condolence and within the liminal space prior to renewal, lies a hesitancy to move forward and while external/internal barriers must be overcome the process has to be completed with the help of others as witnesses. This ceremonial movement is compared to moving from the darkness of the forest into the clearing where the light illuminates the breath and one’s footing becomes clearer. The translation for the Mid-Winter (renewal) ceremony Gaihwayao:ni: is encouragement, employing reciprocal gestures and words, repeatable to lifting up the mind after it has dropped down during condolence and/or trauma.
These images and objects were gathered from Six Nations of the Grand River Territory (the largest Carolinian forest left in Canada) and from the reciprocity of ceremonial spaces and actions that the body and groups of bodies have traversed through time and are embodied within the landscape and memory of the people. Therefore these images are culturally recognizable as they are not only sites from the reserve but are also visualizations of the gestures of bundles from an unchanging narrative either condolence, mid-winter (renewal) ceremonies found within the Great Law of Peace which emphasizes inclusion or the creation story itself. The childhood boreal markers including the white pine act as recurring witnesses in my work. The physicality of these trees transport me into the cultural embrace and replenish a systemic deficit which included language, an entrance into a mindful relationship and responsibilities to the ceremonial lifecycle of birth, death, the natural world and the elevation of our minds: an encouragement.
September 25th 2016 to January 8th 2017
A Driving Force: Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the founding of the Women’s Gallery Committee
Even before the Gallery had opened in 1967, a group of dedicated and energetic women were hard at work to make sure it happened. Established in May of 1966, the Women’s Gallery Committee aided the Gallery with fundraising, special events and education. For many years this Committee became the main source of funds, purchasing a total of 38 artworks for the Gallery, including Tom Thomson’s Near Lake Scugog, Arthur Lismer’s Forest Scene and Norval Morrisseau’s Shaman. In addition to these purchases, the Committee was instrumental in arranging for the donation of hundreds of other artworks for the Collection. A driving force in the early years of the Gallery, this group provided leadership and tens of thousands of hours to raise funds and run programs. This TOM celebrates the visionary philanthropy and work by these extraordinary women with this exhibition of artworks from our collection, all purchased by the Women’s Gallery Committee.
Canadian Spirit: The Tom Thomson Experience continues
Curated by Virginia Eichhorn, Director, Chief Curator
Associate Curators: Robert Alton, Exhibitions Coordinator and David Huff, Curator of Collections
This ongoing exhibition gives visitors an educational and entertaining introduction into Tom Thomson’s life, his connections with Owen Sound and Grey County, and the factors that led him to become one of Canada’s greatest artists. Canadian Spirit: The Tom Thomson Experience is made up of the TOM’s important collection of objects, photos, documents and artworks by Thomson.
The Gallery produces exhibitions based on curatorial research and thematic development. The Gallery does not actively solicit exhibition proposals and we are currently programmed well into 2019. However, artists are always welcome to send information about their work, which might be considered for inclusion in our programming decisions, for off-site Available Space Art Projects, or inclusion in the Gallery Shop.
For further information, please contact Christian Bernard Singer, Senior Curator at firstname.lastname@example.org.