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REVIEW: Eastside Cultural Crawl Displacement Exhibit

Paint on wood
A Focus on Indigenous Community Place Making

(pictured: Local by Hugh Kearney)

It’s not everyday you get to think about the things that tie you to a particular place, but the Displacement exhibit for the Eastside Cultural Crawl inspired those thoughts.

Indigenous curator Cheyenne (Natoyihkii) McGinnis put together a collection of pieces that touched upon different Indigenous identity ties that reflected a feeling of belonging. 

McGinnis’ collection was a display of the connection Indigenous groups have to the land, animals, and earth. It did this by tying together pieces that had strong vibrant tones of red, like the art by Hugh Kearney.

In blending together these pieces of art, McGinnis says the art told a story that solidified and signified identities of Indigenous nations that had previously been eroded by colonial structures.

Each piece on display was an artistic show of reclaiming identity and forging a way for a modern view of Indigenous identity.




(pictured: Status IV by Hugh Kearney)

Hugh Kearney, who had two pieces in the collection on display, says this was his first time having his work displayed as part of an Indigenous exhibit. He says that acquiring his certificate of Indian Status in 2017 and sharing his piece, titled Status IV, was his way of honouring his mother while giving tribute to West Coast modernist art.

This art style is most notably distinguished by red tones and cross hatching. Kearney’s Status IV piece had a cross-hatched figure that resembled a pill, and he says incorporating that in his art was a way of acknowledging the substance use problem in parts of the Downtown Eastside where he had his studio. 

As I rounded off my conversation with the collection’s curator, she said the nature of this pandemic is reminiscent of the times when many Indigenous individuals were not allowed to be with their communities due to government policy.

In reflecting on this, McGinnis hopes more people understand what the value having a place and a community you identify with can mean for one’s life.