Indige­nous art comes to ROM

‘Tour of the land’ aims to reach youth and ur­ban­ites

StarMetro Toronto - - TORONTO - Gil­bert Ngabo Metro | Toronto

Among the hun­dreds of paint­ings Saul Wil­liams has cre­ated, one in par­tic­u­lar evokes child­hood mem­o­ries.

It de­picts a woman busily tend­ing to flow­ers in­side a house. Wil­liams calls it White Women and their Plants.

“That’s what I was taught as a young kid in school,” said the artist, who grew up in North Cari­bou Lake First Na­tions. “You should live like white peo­ple and you shouldn’t be In­di­ans any­more.”

Wil­liams never had plants in­side, he said. In­stead his house was full of tools and il­lus­tra­tions.

“It shows a dif­fer­ence be­tween homes and peo­ple’s iden­tity. You can’t change an ap­ple to an or­ange,” he said.

That paint­ing is one of nearly 150 pieces as­sem­bled in a spe­cial ex­hi­bi­tion launch­ing this week­end at the Royal On­tario Mu­seum. Anishi­naabeg: Art and Power ex­plores the evo­lu­tion of Indige­nous art through hun­dreds of years of his­tory, tra­di­tions and leg­ends.

Wil­liams teamed up with two other dis­tin­guished cu­ra­tors, Alan Cor­biere and Arni Brown­stone, to put the ex­hibit to­gether with the goal of cel­e­brat­ing the power and pas­sion of Indige­nous artists. The paint­ings, draw­ings, tex­tiles and sculp­tures in the ex­hi­bi­tion were cho­sen to ex­press themes of cre­ation, travel, danc­ing and cer­e­mony.

They orig­i­nated from as far as Que­bec, Saskatchewan and Min­neapo­lis.

Part of the ob­jec­tive of the ex­hi­bi­tion is to en­cour­age young peo­ple to learn about Indige­nous tra­di­tional lifestyles, said Wil­liams.

“Be­ing at this ex­hi­bi­tion is like a tour of the land,” he said.

“We just want peo­ple in ur­ban ar­eas like Toronto to be aware of our val­ues and our cul­ture and to re­spect it.” Other pieces in the ex­hi­bi­tion.

indige­nous artist Saul Wil­liams and one of his pieces, White Women and their Plants. cOn­Trib­uTed


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