winsor gallery presents ogema : I am woman
Curated by Lea Toulouse

Winsor Gallery is pleased to present a group exhibition of new works featuring Maria Hupfield, Jeneen Frei Njootli, Wendy Red Star, Tsēma Tamara Skubovius, Janice Toulouse, and Olivia Whetung.
Omega: I am Woman will run from March 9th, 2016 - March 29, 2016 with an opening reception on Wednesday, March 9th from 6 - 8 pm.

The exhibition Ogema: I am Woman centers matriarchal modes of seeing and being: representations of First Nations as seen and created by female artists Indigenous to North America. The exhibition is at once a celebration and testimony that makes visible  Indigenous accomplishments with a focus on positive and constructive counteractions against the colonial violence Indigenous people, and specifically Indigenous women, have endured and continue to endure. This exhibition seeks to challenge what we know about Indigenous women’s roles and lives with new and diverse representations of Indigenous matriarchy, so that we may be better equipped to create and apply new values in our everyday lives. This exhibition demonstrates one vision of Indigenous feminist leadership in action, bringing to the fore various ways Indigenous women create, practice, and live their traditional matriarchal values. The artists' works speak through and beyond colonial history and language with reference to the idea of ‘resurgence’ posited by Leanne Simpson in Dancing on our Turtle’s Back. An integral part of resurgence are creation stories—stories that make up a significant part of the framework of Indigenous identity. According to Simpson, we are taught to insert ourselves into the story, as the artists do by capturing their own depictions of Indigeneity. The term resurgence as defined by Simpson serves to enrich the definition of the matriarch as it pertains to Indigenous people. This exhibition will establish the role of Indigenous women in decolonization as first and foremost self-determined, as well as raise questions surrounding decolonial theories and traditions in the contemporary contexts of both art and politics, using the act of creation as a political performance.

About the Artists

Maria Hupfield
Currently based in Brooklyn New York I am waabaziikwe waabizhishi odoodem from Canada, and a member of Wasauksing First Nation, Ontario. In 2014 I received national recognition in the USA from the Joan Mitchell Foundation for my artist-sewn industrial felt sculptures earning a Painting and Sculpture Grant. My work traveled across Canada for the exhibit “Beat Nation: Aboriginal Art and Hip Hop,” and have shown at the Museum of Arts and Design New York, Toronto Power Plant, and 7a*11d International Performance Festival. My recent project Artist Tour Guide was commissioned by The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, New York with an iteration at The McCord, Montreal Quebec Canada. This summer I designed a nine foot birchbark style hunting canoe out of industrial felt to be assembled and performed in Venice Italy over three consecutive evenings for the premiere of Jiimaan (canoe). I am an active member of Social Health Performance Art Club in Brooklyn NY.

Jeneen Frei Njootli
Jeneen Frei Njootli is a Gwich’in artist and a founding member of the ReMatriate collective. In 2012, she graduated from Emily Carr University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts after working as a Curatorial Assistant for Rita Wong’s Downstream: Reimagining Water project. Later that year, she went on to hold a Visual Art Studio Work Study position at The Banff Centre, which led to her participation in two thematic residencies there in subsequent years, led by Duane Linklater in 2013 and Post commodity in 2014. She is currently pursuing her Master of Fine Arts degree as an uninvited guest on unceded Musqueam territory at the University of British Columbia. Frei Njootli has worked as a performance artist, workshop facilitator, crime prevention youth coordinator, hunter/trapper and has exhibited across Canada.

Wendy Red Star was born in Billings, Montana just outside of the Crow Indian reservation where she was raised. She grew up in a multi-cultural family. Her mother is of Irish decent, her father a full blood Crow Indian and her older sister is Korean. Wendy left the Crow Indian reservation when she was eighteen to attend Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana where she studied sculpture. She then went on to earning her MFA in sculpture at UCLA. Wendy currently lives in Portland, Oregon where she is an adjunct professor of art at Portland State University.
Wendy Red Star’s work explores the intersection between life on the Crow Indian reservation and the world outside of that environment. She thinks of herself as a Crow Indian cultural archivist speaking sincerely about the experience of being a Crow Indian in contemporary society.

Tsēma Tamara Skubovius
Tsēma Tamara Skubovius is an interdisciplinary artist and member of the Tahltan First Nation. She attended Kitinmaax School for Northwest Coast Native Art and later graduated with a BFA from Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver BC.  Her praxis stems from an Indigenous perspective that weaves together cultural stereotypes to explore universal narratives— such as how the value of land and resources are created and assessed through Western measures-of-worth, and furthermore how cultural impact is assessed and created. Tsēma has shown in numerous exhibits including notable group exhibition, Interweavings for emerging First Nations artists who have previously won a YVR art foundation scholarship.  Tsēma is currently a student in the Interdisciplinary Master's in Art, Media and Design program at OCAD University in Toronto.

Janice Toulouse is an Anishinaabe artist and instructor, born and raised in Serpent River, Ontario. She lives in Vancouver, B.C. and France. She has maintained a dedicated painting practice, exhibiting her work internationally for over thirty years. She holds an MFA from Concordia University in Montreal. Toulouse is a recipient of several awards such as the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian award and residency in New York. Currently she is teaching Contemporary Aboriginal Art at Emily Carr University of Art + Design.

“My art is my statement on my life as an Anishinabe Kwe through the language of contemporary art. My research is revising history from an Indigenous perspective, to respect and connect all life. As an artist and teacher, during my lifetime I have worked to bring Indigenous art to the world." Collaborations: “From Manhattan to Menatay” , AICH Gallery, 2006 New York. “Traveling Alter Native Medicine Show” 1999 Grunt Gallery, Vancouver, Aboriginal Art Centre, 1999, Ottawa, Thunder Bay Art Gallery, Ontario, Sacred Circle Gallery, Seattle 2001. Thanks to Canada Council of the Arts for funding several of my projects.

Olivia Whetung
Olivia Whetung is mississauga–ojibwe–anishinaabe from Curve Lake First Nation, born and raised in the territories now called “the Kawarthas”. She completed her BFA with a minor in Anishinaabemowin in 2013 at Algoma University and Shingwauk Kinoomaagewigamig in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Whetung has been an uninvited visitor to unceded Squamish, Musqueam, and Tsleil-Waututh territories for over a year. In her current work, Whetung explores the work of beadwork as active native presence and as indian simulation. She learned loomwork at a very young age from her mother, Vicki Whetung. During her undergraduate degree, she learned bead embroidery from Dorene Day and others at Shingwauk Kinoomaagewigamig. 

This exhibition is curated by Léa Toulouse and is a collaboration between the Critical and Curatorial Program at the University of British Columbia and Winsor Gallery. This project is made possible with the support from the Killy Foundation and the Audain Endowment for Curatorial Studies through the Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory in collaboration with the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery at the University of British Columbia.