- September 9, 2004 to October 2, 2004
Using the idea of the moccasin as a starting point, Vickers creates a personal connection to these objects. Growing up without the teachings or practices of moccasin making, she has had to acquire these skills from the world in which she lives- in fact, the one into which she was born. One pair of moccasins is beaded like the identity bracelets used for newborns in hospitals. Vickers beads the letters A-N-I-S-H-A-B-E and V-I-C-K-E-R-S into the material as a reclamation to her cultural history and personal identification. For another pair, she uses denim, which signals the contemporary lives of Aboriginal artists, whose histories of change have demanded adaptation to new materials and new contexts for art making...Another aspect of commercialism that inspires her work is the way traditional Native ideas and beliefs are used to sell products. One pair of moccasins is labeled "Kokanee", a beer company that uses the image of the Sasquatch in its media advertisements...Another pair carries labels from Shaftebury, a Vancouver brewery that produces Rainforest Ale. Vickers here highlights the irony of an urban business using the rainforest - most of which has been decimated in the name of commercial enterprise - as a marketing device. Judy Chartrand, of the Cree nation, is equally willing to confront the darker issues and histories of native people. She has created cabinets similar to Victorian cabinets of curiosities in which collectors devoid of understanding would house the (looted) treasures of their travels or their pocketbooks. However Judy's 'Cabinet of Contention' contains rows of Warholian soup cans, highly recognizable as signifiers of mass culture and contemporary art practice, and relabels them with words that name the negative repercussions of colonialism. A second cabinet houses pill bottles, each labeled with soporifics or 'snake oil' medicines meant to alleviate (but not cure) the discomforts of white guilt over historical racism...In addition to the cabinets, Judy has used traditional materials and techniques to produce a series of men's thongs, complete with thick bushes of hair peeking from underneath, which she calls her "Buffalo Soldiers". Made from traditionally tanned moosehide, these unusual garments are decorated with beadwork, caribou or moosehair tufting and porcupine quillwork. Each lined in red satin material for the comfort of the wearer, these very well endowed thongs play on the tradition of the openness of sexuality in Native culture. - Daina Warren, August 2004
By Charlene Vickers, Judy Chartrand
artist | 2 ProgramsArtists Charlene Vickers
Charlene Vickers is an Anishinabe artist based in Vancouver BC. She graduated from the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design (94) and is currently an MFA candidate at Simon Fraser University (2013). Born in Kenora Ontario and raised in Toronto her art explores her Ojibway ancestry and her experiences living and working in urban spaces. Vestige Vagabond, a performance and collaboration with Maria Hupfield was presented at the 2011 Santa Fe Indian Art Market hosted by the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts.
- February 23, 2012 to March 31, 2012
Grunt gallery is pleased to present the work of Charlene Vickers in her new installation entitled, “Ominjimendaan/ to remember”. This exhibition is comprised of a range of sculptural objects including wrapped grasses, sturdy spear forms, and stylized turtles. At the heart of this exhibition, Vickers evokes a healing space for those who have experienced loss or who are looking for someone who is missing. Within each grass stalk, spear, and turtle, memory is a source of experiential meaning both historical and personal, for maker and viewer. History, healing and growth are themes of the early wrapped grass and fabric works. By wrapping and binding grasses and hair together with cotton and linen strips, the grasses begin to resemble bone-like forms to evoke vulnerability and recovery. The most recent wrapped grasses stand facing the viewer in relation to their own body. Emphasis on how the body and experiences of the viewer are incorporated in the meaning of the work is crucial. Tall lengths of pointed, sharpened cedar stand balanced against a wall waiting for someone to employ them with purpose; a story, a history, an action. Resembling spears or tipi poles, one thinks of weaponry, hunting, or traditional shelters that provide protection and sustenance. The initial idea for the form of the work began when thinking of the porcupine quill and its elegant and efficient functionality as deterrent to predators. The clan of turtles are the searchers of things lost: people, culture, languages, and histories. The clan shuffles, floats, dreams and searches to find lost sisters and family members, then slowly re-enters the land and the rivers from where they came.
By Charlene Vickers