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Rita Therese and more art by Bruno Canadien

Rita Therese, 2020
100 x 40 x 2 inch (h x w x d)
Mixed Media (acrylic and satin ribbon on canvas)

Rita Therese, named for my mother, is one of a suite of paintings informally called the Grandmothers, and was made for the Mother Tongue/ Ehts’o Ket’a group of works. The original impetus for this work came in the form of 3 pairs of beaded moccasin tops, made by Setsų Héɂı (my Grandmother, deceased) Madeline Canadien, and gifted to me by my Aunt Elsie, with the suggestion that I incorporate them into my practice. As assimilative forces destroyed her ability to communicate verbally with some of her grandchildren, myself included, my grandmother found a way to express her love through sewing and gifting clothing, beadwork, tufting and embroidery. These gifts have come to symbolize my relationship with my grandmother: quiet, beautiful, tangible. Expanding the symbolism, and without exaggeration, Dene & Metı́s traditional artwork represents our love for family and our love for our land, Denendeh. It is this symbolism as well as Setsų’s designs that are at play in these paintings.
Additional floral designs by family members are referenced, including Elsie Canadien’s cranberry motif and rosehips in Rita Therese. Our floral designs are inspired by the beauty of the Land’s gifts and are traditionally rendered in land-based materials such as moosehide, caribou hair, porcupine quills and plant dyes. In Rita Therese, other land-based materials, made from petroleum, convey a message about our (and your) present relationship with the Land, and touches upon the mediation and disruption of that relationship through extraction and consumerism. Water mixes with acrylic on the canvas’s surface, pushing bright colours around and drip with the reminder that we need to maintain our essential bonds with the Land and Water. Rita Therese celebrates our continuance and our interconnectedness with the land, rivers, lakes, animals and each other.

BRUNO CANADIEN
Dene, Deh Gah Got’ı́é Kǫ́ę́ First Nation

Canadien’s art practice is primarily focused on addressing issues surrounding the intersection of First Nations/Tribal sovereignty, resource exploitation and environmental concerns. Using collage, adornment, painting and drawing, Canadien presents evidence of contemporary Indigenous presence and resistance throughout his work. His work has evoked concern Indigenous communities in so-called western Canada and the U.S. have for their territories in the face of aggressive oil and gas exploration and extraction. As a member of a northern First Nation and a resident of the province of Alberta, this issue carries personal resonance for Canadien, especially in regards to the effects of the Athabasca Tarsands development, which is located upstream from his home community of Fort Providence, within the MacKenzie-Peace watershed.
Canadien’s work can be found in private and public collections, including Alberta Foundation for the Arts, Glenbow Museum, Nickle Galleries and the Indigenous Art Centre.



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