Charlene Vickers is an Anishnabe artist living and working in Vancouver. Trained as a painter, she graduated from the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in 1994 and attained a BA from Simon Fraser University in Critical Studies of the Arts in 1998. She completed her MFA at Simon Fraser University in 2013. Born in Kenora, Ontario and raised in Toronto, she explores her Ojibway ancestry through painting, sculpture, performance, and video examining memory, healing and embodied connections to ancestral lands. Her work has been exhibited across Canada and the United States, and can be found in the permanent collection at the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. In 2015, Vickers participated in the group exhibitions The Fifth World at the Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon (curated by Wanda Nanibush), and Custom Made at Kamloops Art Gallery (curated by Tania Willard). Vickers also serves on the Board of Directors of grunt gallery, Vancouver.
August 1–August 31, 2015
Ongoing installation in Artspeak’s windows while the gallery and office are closed for summer holidays.
Protection can be provided through preservation, through space, through care, through time, through consideration, through empathy, through criticality, through solemnity, through affection, through sharing, through progress, through strength, through language, through departures, through sorrow, through accumulation, through provocation, through presence, through repair, through loss, through scrutiny, through material, through discomfort, through shape, through melancholy, through invasion, through expectation, through kinship, through revulsion, through complicity, through mystery, through discourse, through artefact, through overestimation, through recklessness, through pause, through contradiction, through rhythm, through contact, through retraction, through uncertainty, through insistence, through vulnerability, through arrangements, through exchange, through hands and heads, through disclosure, through lapses, through privacy, through consciousness, through conscience, through and again.
These cedar spears were part of a larger healing installation for missing Aboriginal women called Ominjimendaan, the Anishinabe word meaning to remember. Inspired by the natural defence armour of the porcupine and its quills, the hand-carved spears symbolize a large-scale form of protection for Aboriginal women who live with the realities and trauma of systemic colonial racial violence.
These masks were collected by Vickers’ father, David Vickers. David passed away in 2014. Having grown up with these masks and now living with them every day as part of her own home, Vickers acknowledges how influential their presence has been on her life and art practice. “These masks have medicine.” Traditionally used by the False Face Medicine Society of the Haudenosaunee, they bear within them cultural history and personal significance as powerful objects that carry healing. Exhibiting them in this context, Vickers is making an offering of protection and healing for those who have experienced loss and trauma. There are too many. The False Face Masks interspersed with the carved spear quills construct an environment of healing, the objects becoming Vickers’ offerings of Tobacco or Asemaa.
Through the sun, into the set.
As Anishinabe Kwe/Ojibway Woman, Vickers formally respects and recognizes Haudenosaunee traditions and thanks the carver of these masks, Grey Flying Cloud, Miigwetch.