Photographs temporarily take over advertisements along historical streetscape
Marley Lewington | Fulcrum Contributor
Photo provided by Gallery 101
Ottawa’s historical Bank Street has seen a little less advertising and a little more art this past month.
Laura Margita, the curator at Gallery 101, has been busy organizing a public art display on Bank Street in collaboration with Vancouver-based artist Joi T. Arcand. Together, they created an exhibit entitled oskinikiskwēwak, which translates to “young women,” on display in advertising kiosks along Bank Street between Wellington and Somerset.
“Art, in many ways, is like having a conversation,” says Margita. “And these pieces are having an exciting conversation with the general public in their natural environment.”
The exhibit is part of Gallery 101’s new season of featured Canadian artists. Arcand’s work has been displayed along Bank Street since Sept. 7. The debut of the exhibition was followed by a roundtable discussion that featured a critical essay by Cheryl L’Hirondelle about the symbolic nature of Arcand’s work and the importance of supporting the art of indigenous people.
Margita’s biggest goals were to educate the public on the issues of indigenous people in Canada, to inform them of what Gallery 101 stands for, and to influence them to become more involved in their community. She also believes that having Arcand’s work displayed along Bank Street will help promote art in Ottawa and support local artists.
The intellectual understanding between artist and curator makes Margita and Arcand a dynamic pair in the art community. Margita’s guidance and Arcand’s artistic talents have combined to build a novel art showcase. Arcand has photographed and reconstructed 12 vintage images of indigenous people as a “new spin on the old calendar girl.”
When Margita first discovered Arcand’s work, she thought the photographs were “so intrinsically beautiful and overtly political.” The heavily colour-saturated photographs provide a sharp contrast of modern women in the natural and political landscape of Canada.
“This is a piece of art that is meant to communicate on a very straightforward level, where you can understand what the image is right away,” says Margita.
In regards to the feedback Margita has received from Ottawa’s local indigenous, women’s, and art groups, people have been extremely supportive. The community has been making positive remarks about the uniqueness of the display and the politely controversial photographs.
“[The artists] are trying very hard to come up with novel ideas that will help educate the general public about art,” says Margita.
The public can enjoy art freely and conveniently with Gallery 101’s unique new public displays of educational art.