The Arts and Heritage Foundation of St. Albert has long been committed to enhancing the public’s understanding of indigenous history. As we lead up to National Indigenous Peoples Day coming up on Sunday, June 21, here’s a look at a special Art Minute featuring emerging contemporary artist Niamh Dooley, who is currently living and working in Winnipeg (Treaty 1 Territory). Her engaging exhibition, Nintwin is currently on display in our main exhibition space and also available as a virtual exhibition on our website.
Niamh Dooley’s autobiographical works are painted from old family photographs, depict her large extended family and the objects of her Oji-Cree and Irish culture. They focus on the importance of generational learning and the passing down of knowledge, skills and practise through family and community.
Dooley’s piece, naapesis (Boy with Braids), is a portrait of her nephew wearing his grass dancer regalia. When Art Gallery of St. Albert was preparing to host Nintawin, we consulted with local elders and knowledge keepers, including Wilson Bearhead. He shared a lot of valuable knowledge and insight into the traditions of regalia and dance from our local region, enhancing our understandings of the similarities and differences that exist between different Indigenous peoples across the country.
If you are interested in learning more about the tradition of boys wearing braids, Wilson and Charlene Bearhead have written numerous illustrated children’s books, filled with fantastic information.