Col­lab­o­ra­tion is key for th­ese Indige­nous artists VIS­UAL ARTS

The Georgia Straight - - FALL ARTS PREVIEW > WHO TO WATCH -


A long week­end doesn’t seem like 2

much of a break be­tween leav­ing one de­mand­ing po­si­tion and tak­ing up an­other, es­pe­cially while main­tain­ing an on­go­ing com­mit­ment to a third. But cu­ra­tor and writer Tarah Hogue, who has just de­parted her busy job at the grunt gallery to be­come the Van­cou­ver Art Gallery’s first se­nior cu­ra­to­rial fel­low in Indige­nous art, seems cheer­ily re­laxed. She is speak­ing to the Straight in a Chi­na­town cof­fee shop, hav­ing just wrapped up a meet­ing at the nearby Gam Gallery, an in­de­pen­dent ex­hi­bi­tion and stu­dio space she cu­rates with Ju­lia Kreutz. Phew.

“I man­aged to have a couple of weeks of hol­i­day with my fam­ily this sum­mer,” she says, re­as­sur­ingly. “And I was also at a writer’s res­i­dency at BUSH Gallery.” There’s a cer­tain fond rec­i­proc­ity here: the BUSH Gallery, near Kam­loops, is a project of Secwépemc artist and cu­ra­tor Ta­nia Wil­lard, and Hogue wrote a cat­a­logue es­say to ac­com­pany Wil­lard’s show dis­sim­u­la­tion (which opens Septem­ber 15 at the Burn­aby Art Gallery).

Hogue, whose mother is Dutch­cana­dian and fa­ther is Métis, was born and grew up in Red Deer, Al­berta. “A lot of my cu­ra­to­rial work is in­formed by my own per­sonal ex­plo­ration and ques­tion­ing of place,” she says. “As a Métis per­son who was raised in Al­berta, which is not where my fam­ily is from, and then mov­ing to Van­cou­ver, un­ceded Coast Sal­ish ter­ri­tory, what does it mean to be think­ing about this large cat­e­gory of Indige­nous art in this place?”

Hogue ar­rived in Van­cou­ver in 2008, af­ter com­plet­ing a bach­e­lor’s de­gree in art his­tory at Queen’s Univer­sity. “I started as an English ma­jor but as soon as I took an art-his­tory class, I was to­tally en­am­oured,” she says. She also re­counts that when she was young, she ac­com­pa­nied her mother, who was re­search­ing his­toric Dutch sam­plers, through the back­rooms of a num­ber of mu­se­ums. “I think that put the bug into me,” she says. “Got me in­ter­ested in cul­tural pro­duc­tion.”

She was drawn to Van­cou­ver by old friends who were at­tend­ing Emily Carr Univer­sity of Art and De­sign, and worked with them in 2009 to cre­ate the Gam Gallery, which they ini­tially sup­ported by rent­ing out space for mu­si­cal per­for­mances, com­mu­nity events, film screenings, work­shops, and artists’ stu­dios.

In 2010, Hogue en­rolled in the mas­ter’s pro­gram in crit­i­cal cu­ra­to­rial stud­ies at the Univer­sity of Bri­tish Columbia, and since she grad­u­ated in 2012, her ca­reer has snow­balled. She be­gan work­ing at the grunt in 2014, was the 2016 Au­dain Abo­rig­i­nal Cu­ra­to­rial Fel­low at the Art Gallery of Greater Vic­to­ria, and or­ga­nized an im­pres­sive lineup of ex­hi­bi­tions, cul­tural events, and sym­po­siums. Sig­nif­i­cantly, she cocu­rated two shows that opened in 2013 and that ad­dressed In­dian res­i­den­tial schools, Wit­nesses at the Mor­ris and He­len Belkin Art Gallery (which she worked on straight out of grad­u­ate school) and NET-ETH: Go­ing Out of the Dark­ness at Malaspina Print­mak­ers. Her cu­ra­to­rial ap­proach is fem­i­nist and col­lab­o­ra­tive, as seen in #call­re­sponse, her most am­bi­tious project to date. Or­ga­nized through the grunt with Wil­lard and Brook­lyn-based artist Maria Hup­field, it fo­cuses on Indige­nous women from across Canada and the United States.

“I’ve been very for­tu­nate to start cu­rat­ing when I did, hav­ing my first show, Wit­nesses, around the time of the Truth and Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion hear­ings, which re­ally cat­alyzed a lot of re­sponses,” she says. “You see a lot of other in­sti­tu­tions that are mak­ing moves to hire Indige­nous cu­ra­tors, and uni­ver­si­ties that are in­ter­ested in in­di­g­e­niz­ing their cur­ricu­lum.” It’s an ex­tremely im­por­tant process, she says—and long past due.


Char­lene Vick­ers is re­flect­ing 2

on the prac­ti­cal rea­son she en­rolled in an MFA pro­gram at Si­mon Fraser Univer­sity at the age of 41. De­scrib­ing her­self as “a mixed-me­dia painter and in­stal­la­tion artist on the out­skirts of video and per­for­mance”, she says she had been sup­port­ing her prac­tice for years by work­ing in the food-ser­vices in­dus­try. She reached a point, how­ever, where she thought per­haps she could take up teach­ing as a day job. “I wanted to have the pos­si­bil­ity of be­ing an in­struc­tor,” she tells the Ge­or­gia Straight over an iced Amer­i­cano in a Main Street cof­fee shop. “My body was wear­ing out.” Much as she en­joyed other as­pects of the MFA pro­gram, how­ever, she found her teach­ing as­sist­ant­ship at SFU more frus­trat­ing than grat­i­fy­ing.

see page 29

Char­lene Vick­ers (left) and Tarah Hogue bring ex­pe­ri­ences as Indige­nous women to their work. Emily Cooper photo.

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