Calgary

Library seeks Indigenous artists for installations at 3 Calgary branches

The Calgary Public Library is doing a call out for Indigenous artists to contribute to four permanent art installations showcasing traditional Indigenous methods and contemporary art practices.

New permanent exhibits planned for Signal Hill, Forest Lawn, and new Calgary Public Library

Jared Tailfeathers has been visiting nearby Indigenous communities to encourage emerging artists to get involved in the Indigenous art placemaking program. (Livia Manywounds/CBC)

Calgary Public Libraries is seeking Indigenous artists for its latest art project.

The library's Indigenous placemaking project is doing a call-out for Indigenous artists to contribute to four permanent art installations for the Signal Hill, Forest Lawn and central Calgary branches.

Artists are encouraged to apply by submitting their work.

The aim is to get First Nation artists to design and work on the installations that will reflect Indigenous traditional methods and crafts — in collaboration with contemporary art.

When visitors enter the new Calgary Central Library. Indigenous-themed murals are the first thing they see. The permanent artwork was painted by three Indigenous artists, who were chosen to be part of the first art installations for the new building.

Indigenous placemaking program assistant Jared Tailfeathers has been visiting nearby First Nations to engage more emerging artists to get involved.

"We're trying to have some info sessions to give opportunities to artists and community members that aren't really familiar with the sort of art selection or submission process but really deserve to have their work shown, as well," Tailfeathers said. "The next phase is to get people to submit."

Keegan Starlight was one of three Indigenous artists selected to paint murals at the new Calgary Public Library. (Audrey Neveu)

The project is to develop traditional and contemporary artworks and to promote Indigenous educational understanding and cultural communication.

The Indigenous program wants to see more First Nation influence and culture, as directed by the programs' Indigenous elders guidance circle.

"Our elders, they appreciate the contemporary art and support the contemporary artists but wanted to see a little more of traditional ways," Tailfeathers said.

This series of murals grace the welcome gathering wall on Level 1 of the new Calgary Central Library. From left: Survival Harvesting by Roland Rollinmud, Sharing the Knowledge by Keegan Starlight and Spiritual Changes Through Indigenous Teachings by Kalum Teke Dan. (Livia Manywounds/CBC)

The project has two themes of traditional art and contemporary art.

Traditional art, Tailfeathers said, would include traditional ways of making regalia, drums, buckskin outfits and any other types of traditional art forms or craft.

The second theme would be an opportunity for Indigenous artists to share their contemporary art views.

Education is the New Buffalo is an art installation by Lionel Peyachew on the civic concourse at the new Calgary Central Library. (Livia Manywounds/CBC)

Tsuut'ina artist Keegan Starlight was among the three Indigenous artists selected to paint murals at the new library.

"It's definitely educational; it's the perfect launchpad to bridging the gap between… City of Calgary and the Aboriginal community," Starlight said.

"It's such a good opportunity for people to take the chance to go with it. When I first did the first call-out, it was totally out of my comfort zone."

Spiritual Changes Through Indigenous Teachings by Kalum Teke Dan is a mural at the new Calgary Central Library. The library is putting out the call to Indigenous artists to apply to make art for library branches. (Livia Manywounds/CBC)

The opportunity has opened doors for Starlight, whose art is a mixture of portrait, realism, pencil and acrylic paint.

Artists submissions are due by May 6 and applicants can apply online. There is a call-out for an artist selection committee, as well, with a deadline of May 5.