Wanda Nanibush set to bring AGO's Canadian and Indigenous art into the future
Wanda Nanibush will showcase art that speaks to today's conversations around Indigenous lives and the earth
Wanda Nanibush is poised to bring fresh Indigenous art to the Art Gallery of Ontario, thanks to her inaugural position as assistant curator for Canadian and Indigenous art.
"Art is our great imagining. Politics does what is here, concrete, in front of us. Art takes us in to the future."
Nanibush is Anishinaabe-kwe, from Beausoleil First Nation. She completed a master's degree in Visual Studies from the University of Toronto, while holding other roles as a writer, educator, filmmaker and activist. She had worked as a guest curator at the AGO before being chosen for this unique position.
In an interview with Metro Morning, Nanibush explained the relationship between Canadian and Indigenous art.
"It means Indigenous is the ground of Canadian. It's the land on which we operate. That means it has a specific, special role that should be independent of Canada. It shouldn't be under Canada."
"But then at the same time, Indigenous is deeply embedded inside Canada, so it should also be throughout Canada, so it signals both roles."
The Art Gallery of Ontario houses some of Canada's most renowned artists and has traditionally showcased Indigenousart in a chronological layout.
With more and more conversations rising around the lives of Indigenous peoples in Canada, Nanibush is eager to update the way we see Indigenous art today.
Young, active artists play a large role in bringing Indigenous culture to the forefront. Nanibush notices that the new generation of artists meditate on their concern for the earth.
She is inspired by the creativity of those modern artists who are "integrating contemporary art with traditional practices like Mikmaq basketry" or basket weaving.
Nanibush was also involved in the Idle No More movement that highlighted Indigenous issues. The art she will share with visitors plays a role in continuing those political conversations.
"The art itself is reflecting on this thing with Idle No More, connected to spirituality, connected to tradition, connected to older art forms that come out of the drum and out of beadwork."
Nanibush's first exhibit, which will celebrate an extensive collection of diverse Canadian and Indigenous artists from Toronto between the years 1971 to 1989, will be on display at the AGO in the fall.