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Visiting from Above:
After a River On a Street Corner

Jordan Bennett
Artist Statement

Visiting from Above:
After a River On a Street Corner

2021

The root for my practice is the act of visiting, I truly appreciate the act of visiting, I would spend so much time visiting with my grandparents, my relatives, and the land when I was younger, and the more time I spent with them the more I would learn about them and myself. Within my art I try and replicate this practice of visiting and learning in every way I can. When invited to be a part of this project the invitation was to think about envisioning a future arts space. My first thought was that an arts space is a place of visiting. In the request one thing that stood out to me was this, “We don’t know what is possible until we imagine what might be. It’s 2021, what comes next? We are interested in connections: art and science; technology and the natural world; making and experiencing; communities and the individual. We are not interested in the predictable and we love adventure”. I took this as my challenge, but my usual methodology of visiting in place, with others who engage in the space, others from community was not possible, I utilized the tools I had available to me and with the help of the team at TO Live I produced this new work. In thinking of this piece, I tried to place myself in the physical location of the St. Lawrence Arts Centre, and the only way that I could do so during these unprecedented times was to view it from Google maps and street views and with the help of the team at TO Live, to have audio recorded from the street on location so that I could experience it in another dimension.

The first layer to this work was to immerse myself into colour, design and forms based in and of my nation’s porcupine quill designs through painting. This painting on wood was a new experience for me as I played more deeply with brush stroke, broken line, and more deliberate evidence of my hand. It was a way for me to be more expressive and allow colours and textures to blend as a part of the process, not allowing the previous colour to dry fully and layering on and over one another. The linear designs are based on an aerial view of the St. Lawrence Centre for the arts from Google earth. The arts centre is at the centre of the rippling rainbow, and from it a representation of the city streets in white and yellow, Front and Scott streets transition into colourways of purple and pink reminiscent of a century old Mi’kmaq porcupine quill work being housed at the Royal Ontario Museum. Across from the Ripple are shapes reminiscent of Berczy Park Plaza that lead to the Flatiron Building filled with representations of greenery and the intricate patterns on the cobblestone visible throughout that physical space. Throughout the work are introductions of patterns and motifs found in the porcupine quillwork currently being held at the Royal Ontario Museum, at the same time reflective and familiar to other previous paintings from my practice.

The artwork is placed on the landscape here in Mi’kma’ki, the traditional and unceeded territory of the Mi’kmaq. A territory connected to where the Arts Centre lives, on the territories of the Anishinaabe, Mississaugas of the Credit, Haudenosauneee and Huron-wendat by what is now called the St. Lawrence River. The film starts zoomed in closely to where the representation of the St. Lawrence Arts centre is situated, then the painting is slowly revealed. There are sounds of the city from the street corner as the piece pulls up, revealing the artwork from above, a reflection of my only connection to the St. Lawrence Centre’s through viewing it from above on the internet in maps. From this height, it diminishes the scale of the painting, making a rather large human scaled object quite small, in the same way that architectural forms are abstract, and scales skewed when scrolling through and around cities on online maps and earth views taken by satellites. While the painting shrinks, the landscape expands, revealing its vastness and beauty, at which point the city sounds dissipate and the sound of nature, and in particular the sounds of the Atlantic Ocean, my home reveal themselves, a moment to breath and to take in the minute details in our environments and in the painting, an escape from the busyness that we have all come to know well.

From here we shift the scale, you see the painting hung on and amongst trees, the raw material that it’s created from, the raw material that most architectural structures are created from. This work challenges the viewer to imagine an ever-changing environment with endless possibilities, a place to dream from, to imagine open spaces, movement, sound, and light. A means to imagine all senses evoked. It aims to explore the acts of connecting, visiting and sharing. When you partake in any of these acts, stories are told, stories are remembered and new stories are created.

The Original 6 Nations Peace Treaty

Quentin “Que Rock” Commanda
Artist Statement

The Original 6 Nations Peace Treaty:
A Visual Healing Art Experience

Visual land acknowledgement (June 2021)
Spray paint on vinyl

 

This mural is meant to be a visual healing experience.  The seven rings around Grandfather Sun represent the seven Grandfather teachings of the Anishnaabe people: Wisdom, Love, Humility, Respect, Honesty, Courage, and Truth.  There are many layers of sacred geometry patterns on the mural.

The skyline includes the medicine wheel teachings, Grandmother Moon and the thirteen grandmother clan systems.  The turtle shell represents North America’s creation story, the thirteen full moons per year, and the seven grandfather teachings.

The entire mural also represents the original Peace Treaty of the Six Nations on Turtle Island (North America).  The story of the Six Nations Treaty starts with the original five Nations of Turtle Island: the Plant Nation, the Insect Nation, the Bird Nation, the Fish Nation, and the Animal Nation.  All five Nations had to agree to let the Human Nation live here on Mother Earth.  All five Nations agreed to be humanities teachers and the Human Nation was invited to share the land.

The Human Nation was given instructions of how to live on Mother Earth, walk gentle on Mother Earth, learn one new thing every day, and share with one another.  These are some of the original instructions given to the Anishnaabe people.  The bear represents a Medicine Clan.  The Mukwa (bear) is a healer, it is the only animal who communicates with all Six Nations.

The bottom panel represents my story from the past, present, and future. The first character with the microphone is the future and present me.  The second character represents my past as a native child with my dog Miangun and the path of healing I have taken to decolonize myself back to the Anishnaabe child I was born to be.

My mother is a residential school survivor and so was my father.   I am no different than the 215 children found in Kamloops, BC.  I survived to tell you this story and share my experiences.  My community is still here and so am I.

The Artist is from Nbiising or Nipissing First Nation, his traditional name is Manitou Nemeen (Spirit Dancing) and he is from the Miangun Dodem (Wolf Clan).

The orange background on the mural represents the missing/murdered Indigenous peoples of Turtle Island.

To learn more about the artist and his work, follow Quentin Commanda’s Instagram @que_rock_

What is a creative space?
Who is it for?
What could we experience there?
How could it change us?

TO Live has embarked on a quest to unleash debate.

To get things started, we have commissioned artists who have inspired us to create a digital provocation, because whatever STLC NEXT is to be, we want it to be a place for inspiration.

So, we are asking questions.

We are listening.

What If We Got Back Together?

About WORKac

WORKac was founded in 2003 by principals Amale Andraos and Dan Wood. Together, Andraos and Wood lead the 15-person New York based firm.

WORKac creates architecture and strategic planning concepts at the intersection of the urban, the rural and the natural, embracing reinvention and collaborating with other fields to rethink architecture ‘in the world.’ WORKac is dedicated to work in the public realm and in the arts. Andraos and Wood hold unshakable lightness and polemical optimism as a means to move beyond the projected and towards the possible, an ambition with which they approach every project.

WORKac was named the #1 design firm in the US by Architect Magazine and was selected as the AIA New York State “Firm of the Year.” WORKac has achieved international acclaim for projects such as the Edible Schoolyards in Brooklyn and Harlem, a public library for Kew Gardens Hills, Queens, the Miami Museum Garage and the new Student Success Center at the Rhode Island School of Design. Current projects include the Beirut Museum of Art in Lebanon, a Public Library for Boulder, Colorado, and a new 800-seat flexible theater for Virgin Cruises.

Amale Andraos is also the Dean of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. Andraos has previously taught at numerous institutions including Princeton, Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, and the American University in Beirut.

Dan Wood, FAIA, teaches at Columbia University and was the Frank Gehry distinguished visiting professor at the University of Toronto. He was previously the Louis I. Kahn Chair at Yale and has taught at MIT, Princeton, Cooper Union, Ohio State, and UC Berkeley, where he was the Friedman Distinguished Chair.