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The Boarder X Artist Round Table Talk

Post by Nic Adamson

The Boarder X Artist Round Table took place on Saturday, November 19. The six Boarder X artists present spoke with curator Jaimie Isaac about their body of work – how they have re-contextualized traditional methods from the past – and how the complexities of Canada’s Colonial history has impacted past and present generations. The discussion was introduced by a talk from Micheal Langan, founder of Colonialism Skateboards.

Micheal Langan’s skateboard graphics are designed to educate youth about First Nations history and spirituality. He was inspired by his grandpa, Senator Henry Langan, and James William Daspchuk’s book, Clearing the Plains.

“The Canadian Government outlawed Indigenous spirituality practices, jailed Indigenous spiritual leaders, and confiscated sacred items. And no one knew about it,” said Langan.

While his graphics are designed to shed some light onto these dark areas in Canada’s past, Langan expresses hope when speaking about using skateboarding as an educational tool.

“Teachers are reaching out and wanting me to do talks with the students [..] It’s like an icebreaker to talk about our shared history with colonialism."

Jordan Bennett shared a related story about his performance, Pressure Flips, in which he attempted to knock the beads off a pair of moccasins by skateboarding in them.

“For me, skateboarding and snowboarding has always been ceremonial. You gear up, you get ready, you prepare for that day with your playlist and your earphones going […] in a sense, it’s your own personal ceremony.”

In this performance piece, Bennett, was commenting on how large corporations appropriate imagery from Indigenous peoples, and how those effects can be damaging to the culture. But after eight hours of skating the moccasins remained intact, and the performance ended up symbolizing the resilience of Indigenous culture.

Roger Crait takes an intuitive approach to his beautifully congested paintings.

“I get a lot of my ideas from nasty things like pollution. All this busy stuff, it’s too chaotic. We’re going too fast; we need to slow down. […] The airplanes have replaced the birds,” Crait explained.

Steven Thomas Davies combines experimental filmmaking with documentary to examine issues like suicide and land rights in First Nations communities: “[The work] is very much driven by communities and connecting with elders, [and] this notion of cultural resurgence and identity”.

Mark Igloliorte discussed his nostalgic Kayait series – paintings that respond to old photographs of kayakers and boaters from the Inuit community.

“I was fascinated with how the emulsion of the photographs held the image and how the paint, as a liquid medium that would set, could have a similar capacity to hold an image,” said Igloliorte.

This process illustrates his commitment to preserving a cultural history and way of life that is in danger of being forgotten.

Meghann O’Brien explained how snowboarding and travelling in remote areas of BC’s Northwest Coast influenced a therapeutic approach to her art making.

“It’s got kilometres and kilometres of virgin earth, and it doesn't have a lot of human, industrial, or Western imposition on it […] I call it the identity of the Earth. It comes through a lot stronger there, and that’s what kept me coming back,” noted O’Brien.

Les Ramsay’s collages appropriate material with reused motifs from his own compositions. His influences come from kitschy, thrift store objects, beach towels, and 70s era novelty items.

“I found the work involved in those pieces, and the time taken to make those works is so contrary to the [cheap] price it was at the store”.

Ramsay’s assemblages present a longing for the past, and appreciation for a point in history that, if not preserved, could drift into obscurity.

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