Red Embers transformed Allan Gardens in downtown Toronto for six months in 2019. For the first time in the city's history, monumental art by Indigenous womxn artists was displayed for free to the public. The banners were created in Toronto and across Canada and beyond by commissioned artists and floated from 13 tall charred-black gates throughout the park. Two of the banners faced the Victorian-era glass Palm House, while the others straddled the major pathways of the park, allowing visitors to admire them from all directions and walk below them. The local eastern cedar, hand-peeled structures measure about 18 feet high with vertical posts that cross at the top.
Red Embers opened to the public with a smudging ceremony, drumming and guest speakers on June 8, 2019.
Red Embers honours the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, and the strength of community resilience. All the banners and gates will remain in the park from June until the annual October 4, 2019 Sisters in Spirit Vigil. Red Embers has been designed by the team of Indigenous designers Larissa Roque, Tiffany Creyke, and Citylab's Lisa Rochon. The team won a Public Space Incubator competition grant in 2018, awarded by Park People. Commissioned featured artists include Kristen Auger, Annie Beach, Hillary Brighthill, Hannah Claus, Sarah Biscarra Dilley, Rosalie Favell, Adrienne Greyeyes, Lido Pimienta, Louise Solomon, Rolande Souliere, Eladia Smoke, and Janelle Wawia. Artists, including Catherine Tammaro and Lindsey Lickers, worked directly with our Charitable Partner, the Native Women's Resource Centre of Toronto, to create two banners with volunteers.
Framing the red banners in black is a metaphor of the wood holding its structural integrity against flames. The number of installations follows the cycle of the 13 Grandmother Moons within the Lunar System. The Grandmother Moon is the leader of feminine life. For a woman who has experienced domestic violence or sexual assault, it is the Grandmother Moon that provides healing and a rebalancing of energy. The banners moved in the wind in order to carry the spirit that is fundamental to Red Embers. This movement follows the protocols of ceremony. The design team is grateful for the guidance of Elder Jacque (Jacqueline) Lavalley throughout the design process.
Like regalia, some of the banners were designed with ribbons and/or tin jingle cones. The jingle skirt is danced during ceremony as a form of healing for the wearer’s community. Healing comes through the sound of the jingles, and the wearer’s footwork steps. The ribbon skirt empowers the wearer as a reminder of their resilience against cultural genocide. Other Red Ember's artists used new forms of expression using spray paint, fluorescent ribbons or roadkill bones. In this way, Red Embers challenges the conventional view of one homogenous Indigenous aesthetic.
Red Embers presented itself as a celebration of the power of art and design, and was experienced by thousands at Allan Gardens. The banners raised the profile of the Indigenous creative sector while demonstrating non-hierarchical partnerships between Indigenous design principles in the built-environment led by Indigenous womxn with stakeholders at the City of Toronto, Allan Gardens, and with Friends of Allan Gardens.
In Our Hearts & In Our Minds. 2019. Kristy Auger & Adrienne Greyeyes. Moosehide, elk hide, synthetic hide, canvas, Crow & pony beads, sinew, acrylic paint, yarn, faux fur, fabric block printing ink, nylon banding, jingles.
Kristy Auger is a nêhiyaw (Plains Cree) artist from Fort St. John, BC. She is a member of the Bigstone Cree Nation (Wabasca, Alberta). She has a Bachelor of Arts (Indigenous Art) from First Nations University (Regina). Her current practice combines relief printmaking and traditional beadwork. Her work explores the relationship between Indigenous language, culture and land. She aims to weave personal experiences and Indigenous world-views together as a form of healing.
Adrienne Greyeyes is a nêhiyaw artist from Fort St John, BC. She is a member of the Bigstone Cree Nation. Adrienne has her BFA from Emily Carr University of Art and Design. Adrienne's work combines traditional art practices with contemporary materials. Her practice focuses on the challenges Indigenous people face in reclaiming and maintaining traditional practices in urban spaces as well as with land becoming less accessible. In addition, Adrienne creates contemporary Nehiyaw jewelry and utilizes a minimalist style to showcase the beauty of traditional materials.
Annie Beach is a contemporary artist currently acquiring a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the University of Manitoba’s School of Art. Beach is a Cree and Saulteaux woman who was born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba; however, she is also proud to say her family is from Peguis First Nation. Her current work focuses on personal and stereotyped ideas of identity, and embracing and exaggerating said stereotypes in order to address them head on. Her work focuses as well on the issue of #MMIWG and oversexualization of Indigenous women and girls in a sex-positive manner. Beach has also created a number of murals throughout the city of Winnipeg. Her mural projects have been collaborative, with content focused on youth participation and community matters.
tʸošqši kʔitʔułmonʔo kʔiłhina. 2019. Sarah Biscarra Dilley. Linocut on canvas and nylon photo print, red abalone, green abalone, artificial sinew, and thread.
Sarah Biscarra Dilley
Sarah Biscarra Dilley is an artist, curator, and writer currently residing nitspu Chochenyo ktitʸu (in the land/world of the Chochenyo Ohlone people). A member of the yak titʸu titʸu yak tiłhini Northern Chumash tribe, her interdisciplinary process is grounded in collaboration across experiences, communities, and place. Relating unceded land throughout nitspu tiłhin ktitʸu (in the land/world of the people of tiłhini), the State of California, earth and archipelagos joined by shared water, her written and visual texts connect extractive industries, absent treaties, and attempted enclosure to emphasize movement, sovereignty, self-determination and the living quality of all things. While much of her foundations are shaped by body, land and the worlds in and around us, she is currently a PhD candidate in Native American Studies at University of California, Davis. She is full of birds.
Jingle Cones & Resting Bones. 2019. Hillary Brighthill. Jingle cones, wood, fabric
Hillary Brighthill is from Penetanguishene and has Menominee/Métis/ Spartan roots. She has a Fine Art/Indigenous Visual Culture BA from OCADU. Hillary works culturally with First Nation families and communities on a regular basis. This close relationship informs the work she makes through oral traditions, medicinal knowledge and acknowledgment of the importance of spirit and healing. "Everything I know as an artist and person has been taught/given to me by someone/something else. It is very important to me this is established. We all come to this earth with gifts and I am thankful I get to grow/share mine.”
ancestors are with us. 2019. Hannah Claus. Silver reflective fabric
Hannah Claus is a visual artist of English and Kanien’kehá:ka [Mohawk] heritage who has been living and working in Tiohtià:ke [Montreal] since 2001. In her artistic practice, she highlights the importance of relationship, space and time, expressed through an Indigenous methodology and based upon Kanienkehá:ka principles. She graduated from the Ontario College of Art and Design (1998) and Concordia University (MFA 2004). Her installations and artworks may be found in public and private collections such as the National Gallery of Canada, the Canada Council Art Bank, the Royal Bank of Canada, the City of Montreal and Global Affairs Canada. She is one of the 2019 fellows from the Eiteljorg Foundation. Claus is a member of Tyendinaga – Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte in Ontario. www.hannahclaus.net
For my best beloved sister....if only I had know. 2019. Rosalie Favell. Photograph on canvas and ribbons
Rosalie is a photo-based artist born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, who draws inspiration from her family history & Métis (Cree, English) heritage. A major body of recent work, Facing the Camera (2008-ongoing), is a large document of Aboriginal artists (450+). During her residency in Australia in 2016, she met renowned Aboriginal artist Maree Clarke. This key encounter inspired her to initiate a new project, Wrapped in Culture, which brought together 10 Indigenous artists from Australia and Canada. Collaboratively the artists created a contemporary version of a possum skin cloak and a buffalo robe, drawing from culturally distinct yet similar artistic traditions that historically have sacred and practical uses. Over the course of her long career, Favell’s work has appeared in exhibitions in Canada, the US, Edinburgh, Scotland, Paris, France, Taipei, Taiwan and Melbourne, Australia. Numerous institutions have acquired her artwork including the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa), Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography (Ottawa), Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian (Washington, D.C.), and Global Affairs, Canada. She has received numerous grants, and won prestigious awards such as the Ontario Arts Foundation – Paul DeHuek/Norman Walford Career Achievement Award, the Chalmers Fellowship, the Victor Martyn Lynch-Staunten Award and the Karsh Award. A graduate of Ryerson Polytechnic Institute, Rosalie holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of New Mexico and a PhD (ABD) from Carleton University in Cultural Mediations. In Ottawa, Rosalie has taught at Carleton University, the University of Ottawa and Discovery University. If you would like to see more of Rosalie's work, please check out her website www.rosaliefavell.com
Debwe. 2019. Mushkiiki Nibi Kwe, Leah Roberts, Maybella King Reynolds, Shaneixqui Brown. Paint on canvas
Lindsey is a Haudenosaune/ Anishinaabe multi-media artist, facilitator, Indigenous community advocate originally from Six Nations of the Grand River with ancestral roots to the Mississauga’s of the Credit First Nation. Artistically she specializes in contemporary painting, beading, and leatherwork. Lindsey is also an arts and culture facilitator, with expertise in Indigenous governance, and not-for-profit program and community development. Her traditional name is ‘Mushkiiki Nibi Kwe’, which translates to ‘Medicine Water Woman’ and she is of the turtle clan. She is a graduate of OCAD University and has sat on a number of community advisory boards and committees in the Toronto area over the last 10 years. She is currently the President and Chair of the Board of Directors for the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto (NCCT) serving her second term, an Indigenous Representative (Ontario) for the Institute for Research and Development on Inclusion and Society’s (IRIS) –National Committee for addressing Violence Against Women, and Indigenous Representative on the Toronto Counter Human Trafficking Network Committee (TCHTN). Lindsey also passionately continues her commitment to the arts through her own practice and contributing to organizations like the Ontario Arts Council and Toronto Arts Council as a juror. In late 2017 she was shortlisted and awarded a public arts project for the Region of Waterloo and will be creating a permanent public instillation for the Block Line –LRT stop that will highlight Indigenous storytelling and the importance of authentic stewardship of the land. Lindsey is currently the Trauma Support Manager at Native Women’s Resource Centre of Toronto and is the Indigenous Anti-Human Trafficking Liaison for Toronto-GTA. When not entrenched in professional commitments she can be found supporting the community as an Oshkaabewis, or watching her favourite Haudenosaunee sport lacrosse-the Creator’s Game.
The Flesh, The Ink, The Fabric. 2019. Lido Pimienta. Silkscreening, acrylic and yarn
Lido Pimienta is a Polaris-winning musician and performer. Originally from Barranquilla, Colombia, she later immigrated to Canada, settling in London, Ontario, before moving to Toronto, where she is currently based. Following the release of La Papessa, which was self-produced by Pimienta, she was awarded the $50,000 2017 Polaris Music Prize, which is considered Canada's top juried music award. The Globe and Mail called her "the future of Canadian rock and roll", and dubbed her the "artist of the year". In addition to working as a musician, Pimienta is also a visual artist and curator, and her work has been described as exploring "the politics of gender, race, motherhood, identity and the construct of the Canadian landscape in the Latin American"; her work was exhibited in the group exhibition FEMINISTRY IS HERE at Mercer Union gallery in Toronto. She is of mixed Afro-Colombian and Wayuu descent.
Animikii-Okan | Bone Thunderbird, 2019. Eladia Smoke | KaaSheGaaBaaWeak & Larissa Roque. oniijaaniw-ogan dash ayaabe-ogan | deer bone, miskwaabik | copper
Eladia Smoke is an architect, member of the Ontario Association of Architects, founding principle of Smoke Architecture, whose work was featured in the exhibition, Unceded, Canada's entry to the Venice Biennale, 2018. KaaSheGaaBaaWeak | Eladia Smoke is Anishinaabekwe from Obishikokaang | Lac Seul First Nation, with family roots in Alderville First Nation, Winnipeg, and Toronto. Eladia has worked in architecture since 2002 and founded Smoke Architecture as principal architect in 2014. She is a Master Lecturer at Laurentian’s McEwen School of Architecture. Her career includes principal architect with Architecture 49, Thunder Bay, and architect with Prairie Architects, Winnipeg. Eladia has served on the RAIC’s Indigenous Task Force since its inception, 2015. Current professional work includes a community centre, office, and multi-family residential projects working with First Nation clients. Her submission to Red Embers uses road kill bones transformed into a thunderbird, created in collaboration with intern architect Larissa Roque, who works with Eladia at Smoke Architecture.
Nokomis [Grandmother], 2019. Louise [Minowensetchketkwe] Solomon. Faux fur, synthetic hair, vinyl, and Jingle cones
Louise Solomon (Ojibway from Nawash First Nation) is a multimedia artist and goldsmith that takes inspiration from Mother Earth, her culture, and growing up in downtown Toronto. She explores modern day techniques and forms while still incorporating and drawing inspiration from raw materials like hair, claws, teeth, sweetgrass and other organic mediums. Louise studied Studio Art at the University of Guelph where she received her Bachelor of Arts and then continued her studies at George Brown College for Goldsmithing. She is the founder and owner of a successful jewelry company, Hand of Solomon, where she produces high-end engagement rings, wedding bands and statement jewelry art that reflect her Indigenous culture.
Kookum Power. 2019. Rolande Souliere. Acrylic paint, primer, repurposed reflecting tape, thread and bells
Souliere is Anishinaabe, born in Toronto, Canada and is a member of Michipicoten First Nation and an Australian citizen. Souliere has a PhD in Visual Arts and a Master of Visual Arts from the University of Sydney, Australia. Her art practice addresses Indigeneity on a local, national and international level through her use and manipulation of materials, handmade processes and abstraction. Living between Australia and Canada, countries that both have significant Indigenous populations, Souliere reveals aspects of global colonial histories that draw upon individual and collective Indigenous histories. Souliere’s well-known artworks are those that make use of construction tape (that are also the colours of the Four Directions) to comment on land claims, infrastructural intervention and economic expansion with the oncomings of colonial settlement. Since 2013 Souliere has worked with Indigenous communities from Australia and Canada on her ongoing social art project The Collage of Indigenization. She has participated in nationally and internationally exhibitions and residencies, and has been the recipient of visual arts grants such as the New Work Grant by Canada Council in 2012 and 2015. In 2015 she was awarded a public art commission by the City of Toronto and another in 2017 by the City of Winnipeg and Winnipeg Arts Council. In 2019 Souliere will launch three temporary public artworks for the Contemporary Art Gallery in Vancouver, curated by Kimberly Philips.
Gifts From Our Grandmothers. 2019. Catherine Tammaro & The Native Women's Resource Centre of Toronto. Metallic and outdoor acrylic paint, tin jingles, tobacco ties
Catherine Tammaro has been involved in a wide array of interdisciplinary collaborations, ongoing special projects and themed exhibitions, as originator, curator, performer and exhibitor. She is leading one of the banner designs at Native Women's Resource Centre of Toronto working with volunteer Indigenous women. She has been working with the academic community of late and is currently involved with several projects such as The Daughters of Aataentsic, The Star Collective, Walking With Our Sisters and others. She is a seated Tradition Keeper for the Wyandot of Anderdon Nation; Speckled Turtle Clan. Catherine is Akin Studio’s premiere Indigenous Elder Artist in Residence, on the Council of the Children’s Peace Theatre, is the Elder for the Toronto Indigenous Business Association and is working with many agencies, citywide and beyond, to advise and facilitate art making/teaching workshops, as well as maintaining her own art practise regarding spiritual and ever-changing realities as they pertain to our connection to the sacred multiverse.
See Her. Hear Her. Love Her. 2019. Janelle Wawia. Upcycled fabric, vegan leather, jingle cones and wallpaper
Janelle Wawia is a self-taught artist from Opwaaganasiniing, also known as Red Rock Indian Band. Janelle is fueled by spending time with family at her family’s cabin and trap lines. She is a multidisciplinary Anishinaabe artist. Janelle often combines contemporary and traditional, yet innovative fashion, using fur, leather, fabric and textiles that are often influenced by the spirit world. She is also painter; her focus is on women and her connections to the land. Janelle has won a Juror’s award from the Thunder Bay Art Gallery for her Fur Hood Scarf in 2014 and in 2016, She won the Barbara Laronde Award through Native Women in the Arts in Toronto, ON, an award for emerging Indigenous female artists in Northern Ontario. She also contributes to her community through art programming with youth and her fashion designs were shown at the 2018 Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto, New Moon Runway Showcase.
Tiffany Creyke is a member of the Tāłtān First Nation focused on the creative direction for reclaiming and activating space to represent the Indigenous community from a matriarchal worldview. Creyke received her BA and PBD from Simon Fraser University and her MCRP from the University of British Columbia. She is the Indigenous design lead for Vancouver Coastal Health. Creyke is a core member of the Rematriate Collective, and creative partner of special projects to fashion designer and artist Curtis Oland, with their first installation Delicate Tissue exhibited at Somerset House for the British Council’s International Fashion Showcase during London Fashion Week (2019). She co-designed and curated 13 public space installations in Toronto called Red Embers (2019), and co-curated transmission tactics with Niki Little at SYNONYM Gallery for the Wall-to-Wall WPG Mural & Culture Festival (2019). Creyke has worked with the Indigenous Place Making Council, Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week, Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto.
Larissa Roque is a design leader for Red Embers engaged with the design of the cedar gates, Indigenous plantings, stakeholder engagement, site planning and the co-creation of 1 of the 13 banners with Eladia Smoke. As a masters graduate from Dalhousie University School of Architecture and a proud member of Wahnapite First Nation, her career focuses on self-determination and empowerment of Indigenous communities. This is evidenced by her design work for Humber College Cultural markers (complete), Waakebiness-Bryce Institute for Indigenous Health Offices (complete) and Naskapi Women's Shelter (in progress). She uses architecture and the art of building to help others heal, gather, learn about their culture, and to feel a part of something larger than themselves.
Lisa Rochon, principal of Citylab, is an award-winning architecture critic (The Globe and Mail, 2000 - 2013), and design co-leader for Red Embers working on site planning, material specification and negotiation with all stakeholders. She is also the Design Director for the new $65-million Canadian Canoe Museum, a work of land-architecture to be sited on a National Historic Site, the result of a partnership with Parks Canada, and consultations with Indigenous peoples, especially Curve Lake and Hiawatha First Nations. The author of "Up North, Where Canada's Architecture Meets the Land", she works to create equitable public space, and align nature with built form, heightening our connection to the land through public art and design. These themes have resonated throughout her career as a public speaker, university lecturer, as design jury chair of Winter Stations (2014-2018), and as a member of the International Advisory Board for the McEwen School of Architecture where Elders teach students and wood design is celebrated.
Red Embers Design Team: Larissa Roque, Lisa Rochon, and Tiffany Creyke