Gallery Exhibition / “Métis Now: Elders, Artists and Activists” by Nevada Christianson
March 1 @ 12:00 pm – March 31 @ 5:00 pm PST
Mar 1st – Mar 29th, Massy Arts will host a new show by Métis artist Nevada Christianson. “Métis Now: Elders, Artists and Activists” is an exhibit that aims to honour elders, support artists, and celebrate activists from the Métis community. This project was made possible through the Nakaatchihtow Arts and Culture Grant, awarded by the Métis Nation of British Columbia.
Using portraiture as a form of activism to shine a light on inspiring members of the Indigenous community, the show will also mark the release of a softcover collection of the images. This colourful book of portraits will feature accompanying biographies, pay homage to artists, activists and knowledge keepers from the Métis Nation and encourage Métis youth to connect with their culture and communities. In keeping with the Métis values of earth stewardship, the publication will be a zero carbon emission book published by award winning Hemlock Press.
The Massy Arts Gallery is located at 23 East Pender Street in Chinatown, Vancouver.
The gallery is open Tuesday to Saturday, 12pm to 5pm.
Entrance is free, and masks are mandatory.
To contact the gallery, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
In September 2021 I was honoured to receive the Métis Nation of British Columbia Nakaatchitow (the Michif word for ‘skill’) Grant. The grant allowed me to develop an idea to create a series of Métis portraits that would honour elders, support artists, celebrate activists and inspire youth to connect with their culture and community.
The selection process for this collection of portraits proved to be organic. The grant itself was incredibly innovative and allowed for a great deal of creative freedom with a small, but efficient budget for administration. In order to stay within the administrative parameters of the grant I found subjects for the portraits through recommendations within the Métis community.
Some of the recommendations came from early participants in the project, while others were the result of discussions I had with Elder Denise McCuaig who, along with Elder Marie Bercier agreed to serve as advisors for the project. Further participants were found through lunch time conversations at the Aboriginal Gathering Place, which is the centre for Indigenous students at Emily Carr where I currently study Visual Art.
Participants were also chosen through work connections at MNBC as well as people in the larger Métis community who I personally found inspiring. This included my own cousin who attended the Gabriel Dumont Institute and works as a Métis history and culture educator and genealogy researcher. She was instrumental in helping me to learn more about my ancestral Métis history, which in part served as the
inspiration for this exhibit.
This collection of portraits of uplifting Métis community members is by no means meant to be exhaustive, far from it. The Métis Nation is filled with creative, wise, visionary, nature connected, generous, intelligent, spiritual, resilient, just, family loving, courageous, proud, community minded, hugely inspiring people and I could spend lifetimes recording their histories through portraiture. Indeed, I hope I do get that opportunity!
A final word about these portraits is how the images themselves came to fruition. Along with a request for photographs, I sent out a series of questions to each participant that allowed me to include symbols and imagery that reflect the work, beliefs, practices, influences and interests of each participant as well as symbols from Métis culture.
This process engendered the project with a vulnerability and openness from participants that made the experience of creating these images special and moving in ways I never could have predicted. I am filled with wonder and gratitude.
– Nevada Christianson
Nevada gratefully and respectfully acknowledges that she lives and works on the shared, unceded territory of the Skwxwu7mesh (Squamish) Nation and the Lilwat7ul (Lil’wat) Nation in Whistler, BC.
Nevada is a mixed Irish Italian settler of Cree Métis descent from her maternal line. She is descended from Marie Rose Tourand of the Tourand family who lived in the Métis homeland of the Red River Valley. She is a Métis citizen of the Métis Nation of British Columbia.
For years Nevada worked as a self taught painter using acrylic paints, gold leaf, iridescent inks and epoxy resin to create brightly coloured, stylized imagery on hardboard. This way of working came to an abrupt halt after she fell ill from exposure to acrylic paint and other toxins in her studio. Nevada used the time it took to recover her health to think deeply about how she could cultivate a more sustainable creative practice.
Transitioning from using paints and epoxy resin meant she could choose a medium that gave her more freedom to travel and work from different locations. Enter digital art. Nevada was further drawn to digital art because of a regard for bold, colourful work imbued with design and pattern and a long standing appreciation for graphic art. From the moment she started drawing with an Apple pencil she knew she had found a niche worth exploring.
What she didn’t know was how streamlined, sustainable and applicably diverse her art practice would become. With the ability to print images on 100% post consumer recycled metal, Nevada was able to eliminate the excessive waste she generated as a painter.
Creating images that could be reprinted on an array of surfaces meant that along with producing an exhibit or a private commission, she could also produce a book, work with nonprofits and leverage her graphic art practice to champion earth stewardship and serve her community in new and innovative ways.
Nevada founded ChicaDee Designs (ChicaDeeDesigns.com) and uses adjustable snapback hats as portable canvases to connect adults and children with the natural world and support causes related to social and climate justice.
Nevada balances her digital work with a traditional drawing practice and studies Visual Art with a focus on print at Emily Carr University of Art & Design.
Click here to visit her website