Rebecca Baird MFA, OCADU - b. 1954 Edmonton, Alberta

First Nations Status: Nehiyaw (Cree)/Metis

Reflecting her identity as a Cree/Metis woman, Baird’s artistic practice has explored themes of Indigenous history, identity and culture through the lens of sculpture, installation and painting. Challenging western notions of the ‘imaginary Indian’ perpetuated by mass media stereotypes, her work re-articulates and re-visions Indigenous narratives, while striving to engage a contemporary intersection of memory and meaning.

Her work has been featured in landmark exhibitions such as From Sea to Shining Sea, Power Plant, 1987 and Indigena, former Museum of Civilization, 1992 (a collaboration with her brother, artist Kenny Baird). Her extensive exhibition history includes presentations in galleries and museums across Canada as well as internationally. She has curated select projects, most recently Trove: Unearthing the Embargo Collective II presented in conjunction with ImagineNative Film & Media Festival 15th Anniversary, 2014. Public art commissions include: The Great Mystery, acrylic on canvas, 1996, Queen West Community Health Centre; Open Sky, acrylic on canvas, 2001, Lester B. Pearson International Airport New Terminal; Kiinwin Dabaagjmowin, “Our Story” in collaboration with artist Philip Cote, 2001, Mississauga’s of New Credit Reserve.

Baird’s current practice draws upon the traditional Star Blanket design, a symbolic marker of relationships within both individual and collective lives, exploring the evolving dynamism and motion of relationships originally suggested within this enduring cultural marker. Her art continues to be represented in notable private and public collections.
She resides and works in Toronto.

 

 

The 3rd Annual WIld West Show ,  "Are These Things Not A Dream? "  1984
    Indigena,  "Heartland", 1992,  in Collection of the Museum of Civilization.           
        Created   in  collaboration  with  artist  Kenny Baird
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Cree Star Blanket, 2014 

CURATORIAL ESSAY

Trove: Unearthing the Embargo Collective, reveals the creative visions of five Indigenous female filmmakers, each a part of The Embargo Collective II. Inspired by historical, contemporary and personal struggles, artists Alethea Arnaquq-Baril, Lisa Jackson, Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, Zoe Leigh Hopkins, and Caroline Monnet investigate compelling perspectives of lived experiences that signal a call to the process of reclaiming ancestral connections in order to define one’s contemporary identity.

The five works featured in the exhibition include three film shorts, a sound work and a sculptural installation. Alethea Arnaquq-Baril’s film, Retracing the Lines of Inuit Tattoos, explores her personal journey to learn the tradition of Inuit women’s face tattoos. Informed by ancestral connection through reliance upon the collective remembering of community, contemporary research and ceremony, Alethea affirms her decision to tattoo her face with traditional and ‘outlawed’ cultural symbols. This powerful personal statement literally stands in the face of colonialism and hegemony.

Lisa Jackson’s musical, Savage, designed through parameters set by the Embargo Collective I explores the impact of residential school experiences in three parts: the children taken away, the mothers left behind and the children at the school. Despite the horrors of that experience for many, a spirit of resilience shines through in the closing dance sequence that acts as a bridge of healing between generations.

Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers’ film, Bloodland, speaks to the cultural crisis of ‘fracking’ in Native territories and challenges the deeply contrary belief systems of Indigenous and traditional knowledge systems with that of the Western, ideologically driven by Oil and Gas industries. Rather than as the Murphy Oil Company states:" Some say we do not inherit our world from past generations as much as we borrow it from future ones", Tailfeathers’ film reminds all, even the leaders of her community, that we inherited the earth from our ancestors and we are to protect its survival for future generations. There is no ‘borrowing’ but a claiming of responsibility to stand up.

Zoe Leigh Hopkins’ installation Karenniyohston – Old Songs Made Good, creates a sound piece that fuses Mohawk oral language and musical composition in creative adaptations of select national and cultural anthems. Placed in between the familiar musicality of patriotic national anthems, the listener is invited to reflectively participate in Hopkins critique of how foreign actions have and continue to supplant Indigenous ways of knowing and being.

For Algonquin/French artist, Caroline Monnet, her provocative minimalist installation, Là, visually engages a deeply subjective interpretation of lived experience through materiality. Suspended from the ceiling are five steel link chains painted red. As a performative action while creating the work, Monnet placed a contact mike on the chains. Activating them, the resulting soundtrack is reminiscent of the sound of running water. The title, Là, neither directs nor defines but suggests that the relationship of claiming one’s own identity is a process, which is the engagement of both the fluid and static.

Each of these artists’ works reflects an Indigenous dialogue that speaks to the collective value of/within a contemporary personal id