Tales of Whales & Reconciliation: New Powerful Exhibition Opens

Four First Nations artists join in unique residency project to create powerful works

Halifax, February 3, 2016 – Following a member opening and poignant Whale Honour Song performance, the powerful new The Path We Share exhibition opened at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. Borne of two creative residencies with four First Nations artists (Charles Doucette, Fran Francis, Courtney Leonard and Alan Syliboy), the exhibition is the result of collaborative exchanges in Nova Scotia—one at The Deanery Project in Lower Ship Harbour in 2014, the other on Brier Island in 2015. Through a unique process of self-directed dialogue and artmaking, the group focused on reconciling the parallel journeys of the Mi'kmaq People and the whales of the North Atlantic. Mixed media works, including sculptures, drawings, film, photographs and more, explore shared stories of contact and consequence to arrive at newfound forms of expression and understanding.

World-renowned Mi’kmaq artist Alan Syliboy, who conceived of the project and sought participation by other First Nations artists, explained: “ Recently (just a few centuries back), the course of whale life was significantly altered by contact with visitors who stayed. While predation did not begin with these settlers, their pursuit of livelihoods beyond subsistence became a threat to the very existence of whales. Their habitat too, has deteriorated with the depletion of food sources, purity of water, and intrusion of substances, sounds, climatic change, and physical hazards that have accompanied the new ways,” he said. “In this world, you don’t see a show like this very often. Not only will people experience something they probably haven’t before, it also gives hope to new artists, who will see that they can come to a place like the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia and see a show like this. That’s really powerful,” he added.

“The Gallery was focused on facilitating this truly special, artist-led approach by providing a platform for the artists and the community to work from,” said David Diviney, the exhibition’s curator and the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia’s Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art. “The residency makes visible a creative process that visitors aren’t usually privy to when viewing an exhibition. This meaningful approach, which saw the artists travel on water to get closer to the whales, has created what should be an invaluable experience for visitors, the community and the Gallery itself.”

The Path We Share opens to the public on Saturday, February 6 and will remain on view until April 24, 2016, after which it will travel to the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia’s Yarmouth location. Artist talks and associated events will be announced in support of the exhibition.

The artist collective is also working independently on a documentary film of the same title, and have created a Kickstarter campaign to request the public’s help in reaching their production goals: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1620025216/the-path-we-share


IMG: Courtney Leonard, Whale Sculpture in Ship Harbour