ART GALLERY OF ALBERTA, EDMONTON, AND WALTER PHILLIPS GALLERY, BANFF To September 10
In her installation for the Alberta Biennial, Calgary-based artist and social worker Tamara Lee-anne Cardinal invokes her family history.
TAMARA LEE-ANNE CARDINAL: The first iteration of this piece consisted of printouts of articles from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. I was consulting my family to figure out what it means for us, how listening to stories from our Elders about residential schools affects our future generations. Only a portion of the truth has been heard.
The piece has changed since I first conceived it: there are no words now, and it has become a seven-pointed star that is eight-feet-wide in circumference.
Sacred medicines—some gifts and others harvested by my family—that I personally use, like tobacco, sweetgrass, sage, wîhkês and red cedar, went into hand-making the paper. All of the understanding and knowledge that I have gained from my Elders informed it. The teachings that I have received around the seven-pointed star directly relate to my traditional name, Mahihkan Acahkos Iskwew, and the teachings from the Elders I have been working with also use the seven-pointed star. It signifies everything that is in between — above, below, within.
The star hangs from above, with a light shining through the translucent paper to illuminate it. When you stand underneath it, you will be activating the star, completing it, and when you look up, you will be able to see its details, like my own hair. It will feel like you are underneath a blanket, because it will completely engulf you.
Tamara Lee-anne Cardinal Akohp: A Blanket (detail) 2016