June 18th, 2024

Reconciliation art project seeks Indigenous artists

By Dale Woodard on July 14, 2021.

With the fifth Annual Reconciliation Week two months away, Indigenous artists are being offered a chance to show their work.
The City of Lethbridge, through the Reconciliation Lethbridge Advisory Committee, Heart of Our City Committee and Public Art Committee and Telus, is seeking Indigenous artists to design artworks to be temporarily installed in downtown Lethbridge.
The call for Indigenous Artists is set to coincide with the fifth Annual Reconciliation Week Lethbridge Sept. 20-24 and is open to Indigenous artists of all ages and all levels of artistic practice.
The installation of temporary artworks in the downtown is an opportunity to showcase Blackfoot and other Indigenous peoples who call Lethbridge home.
This project will bring vibrancy to a currently underutilized window space on the Telus Building on 4th Avenue south.
The call for artists went out last Friday and is open until July 26.
“We’re encouraging artists from all levels of professional artistic practice and different disciplines of artistic practice to submit a letter of interest,” said Indigenous Relations Advisor Perry Stein. “We’ll review those and ultimately will be commissioning one or two Indigenous artists whose artwork will be displayed in the street-level windows of the Telus building fronting on 4th Avenue and 8th Street for, we hope, up to six months starting in September.
“We are open to taking any and all submissions from the community. There is no limit to the number of applications that can be submitted. We will only be able to commission one or two artists for the actual work itself.”
Preference will be given to Indigenous artists with a strong linkage to Lethbridge and region.
Stein said the timing this year is significant due to the different media events in past months, including the discoveries of mass grave sites at residential schools across Canada, the appointment of Canada’s first Indigenous governor general and the first female Chief of the Assembly for First Nations.
“There is a lot of media interest and national interest in stories that have a distinct focus on Indigenous people in the community. This is an opportunity to work with that momentum and interest and showcase Blackfoot people in the city in a real strength-based perspective and a positive perspective.”
Stein said the artwork showcase also contributes to the vibrancy of the community.
“Research shows when you have vibrant public spaces with beautiful pieces of artwork in actively used spaces that there is a stronger sense of community attachment. They’re safer, friendlier and more inviting. We’re trying to activate all of those different opportunities at once.
“I can imagine for an emerging artist, to have your artwork shown on one of the most high-profile spaces in the Alberta’s third-largest city in a huge opportunity. So for emerging artists and experienced artists, we’re looking at this as a gateway to showcase Blackfoot art and Indigenous art in the community and the region.”
For the past three years, the Reconciliation Committee, as part of their yearly strategic planning and budgeting, tends to identify a theme, said Stein.
This year, the committee settled on the theme of voice and representation.
“I think, in hindsight, that was the perfect theme given the different events that have transpired in the last several months in Canada,” said Stein. “People are looking to to the Indigenous community to be the voice, to offer their perspectives, to help us collectively understand and work our way through these difficult conversations and what, for many non-Indigenous people, are the first time we’ve heard about some of these atrocities coming to light. Obviously, none of this is new information, though. The theme of voice and representation this year is one we’ve asked Indigenous artists to really think through and think about how they can showcase that in the artwork they plan to submit.”
The call to the artists is a two-step process, said Stein.
“The first is to submit a letter of intent that helps us understand what you’ll be looking to showcase in this opportunity and then ultimately once the committee has decided upon one or two artists to actually to commission some work, that the artistic design will follow through with the actual piece of art that is installed.”
Stein anticipated the selected works of art will go on display at the Telus building in the last few days of August or the first few days of September.
“We’ll be taking these pieces of art and transferring them into vinyl wraps which will be installed on the windows of the building. We’re expecting them then, but well in advance of Reconciliation Week and having them up for about six months.”
Interested artists are asked to submit contact information, including email, phone number and address, a letter of interest – maximum 500 words – explaining why are they’re interested and a proposed design concept, which should outline the connection to Reconciliation Week theme “Voice and Representation”.
As well, artists are asked to provide up to five examples of previously created artwork.
For full details and information on how to apply visit http://www.publicartlethbridge.ca/current-calls/

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