Wabanaki Modern | Wabanaki Kiskukewey | Wabanaki Moderne

By Emma Hassencahl-Perley & John Leroux

Wabanaki Modern | Wabanaki Kiskukewey | Wabanaki Moderne
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The story of an overlooked group of cultural visionaries

The “Micmac Indian Craftsmen” of Elsipogtog (then known as Big Cove) rose to national prominence in the early 1960s. At their peak, they were featured in print media from coast to coast, their work was included in books ... Read more


Overview

The story of an overlooked group of cultural visionaries

The “Micmac Indian Craftsmen” of Elsipogtog (then known as Big Cove) rose to national prominence in the early 1960s. At their peak, they were featured in print media from coast to coast, their work was included in books and exhibitions — including at Expo 67 — and their designs were featured on prints, silkscreened notecards, jewelry, tapestries, and even English porcelain.

Primarily self-taught and deeply rooted in their community, they were among the first modern Indigenous artists in Atlantic Canada. Inspired by traditional Wabanaki stories, they produced an eclectic range of handmade objects that were sophisticated, profound, and eloquent.

By 1966, the withdrawal of government support compromised the Craftsmen's resources, production soon ceased, and their work faded from memory. Now, for the first time, the story of this groundbreaking co-operative and their art is told in full. Accompanying a major exhibition at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery opening in 2022, Wabanaki Modern features essays on the history of this vibrant art workshop, archival photographs of the artisans, and stunning full-colour images of their art.

Wla atukuaqn na ujit ta'nik mu ewi'tamuki'k tetuji kelulkɨpp ta'n teli amaliteka'tijik

Wla “Mi'kmewaqq L'nue'k amaliteka'tijik” tlo'ltijik Elsipogtog (amskweseweyekk i'tlui'tasikɨpp Big Cove) poqji wuli nenupnikk wla amaliteka'tijik 1960ekk. Je wekaw wutlukowaqnmuwow ika'tasikɨpp wikatikniktuk aqq ne'yo'tasikɨpp ta'n pukwelk ta'n wen nmitew — je wekaw Expo 67 — aqq ta'n koqoey kisi napui'kmi'tipp tampasɨk koqoey eweketu'tij stike' l'taqnewi'kasik, napui'kn misekn, wi'katikne'ji'jk, meko'tikl kuntal, kaqapitkl l'taqa'teke'l, aqq wekaw akalasie'we'k eptaqnk. Nekmow na kekina'masultijik aqq melki knukwi'tij ta'n tett telayawultijik, nekmow na amskewsewa'jewaqq l'nu'k tel nenujik ujit ta'n teli amaliteka'tijik ujit Atlantic Canada. Pema'lkwi'titl a'tukuaqnn ta'n sa'qewe'l, ta'n wejiaqel a'tukuaqnn Wabanaki, l'tu'tipp kaqasi milamu'k koqowey toqo eweketu'titl wutpitnual tetuji moqɨtekl, ma'muntekl, aqq weltekl.

Wekaw 1966ekk, kpno'l pun apoqnmuapni wla amaliteka'tikete'jɨk jel kaqnma'tijik ta'n koqoey nuta'tipp, amuj pana pun lukutipnikk, aqq tel awantasuwalutki'k. Nike', amskwesewey, wla a'tukuaqn tetuji msɨki'kɨpp wla wut lukewaqnmuwow etel kaqi a'tukwasikk. Wije'tew meski'k neya'tmk Beaverbrook Art Gallery pana'siktetew 2022al, Wabanaki Modern na pema'toql wikikaqnn ujit ta'n pemiaqɨpp wla tetuji wulamu'kɨpp kisitaqnne'l telukutijik, maskutekl sa'qewe'l napuikasikl toqo nemu'jik etl-lukutijik wla lukewinu'k, aqq sikte wultek aqq welamu'k ta'n koqoey kisitu'tij.

L'histoire d'un groupe de visionnaires culturels ignorés

Un groupe d'artisans mi'kmaw d'Elsipogtog (autrefois Big Cove) au Nouveau-Brunswick se fit connaître à travers le Canada au début des années 1960. À l'apogée de leur renommée, les Micmac Indian Craftsmen firent l'objet d'articles dans des publications d'un océan à l'autre. Leur travail figura dans des livres et des expositions — dont Expo 67 à Montréal — et leurs œuvres graphiques furent reproduites sous forme de gravures et de sérigraphies, et elles ornèrent de la papeterie, des bijoux, des tapisseries et même de la porcelaine anglaise.

En grande partie autodidactes et solidement enracinés dans leur communauté, les Micmac Indian Craftsmen furent parmi les premiers artistes autochtones modernes au Canada atlantique. En s'inspirant de récits traditionnels wabanakis, ils fabriquaient à la main une gamme variée d'objets raffinés, évocateurs et porteurs d'un sens profond.

En 1966, toutefois, le gouvernement retira son soutien. Les Craftsmen perdirent leur financement, la production cessa peu après et leur œuvre finit par être oubliée. Une nouvelle publication relate maintenant, pour la première fois, l'histoire complète de cette coopérative innovatrice et de ses réalisations. Publié dans le cadre d'une grande exposition qui a lieu à la Galerie d'art Beaverbrook en 2022, Wabanaki Moderne comprend des textes sur l'histoire de cet atelier dynamique, des photographies d'archives des artisans et de superbes illustrations couleur de leurs œuvres.

Emma Hassencahl-Perley

Emma Hassencahl-Perley is a Wolastoqey artist, curator, and educator from Neqotkuk (Tobique First Nation).

Emma Hassencahl-Perley na Wolastoqey l'nu lukwet, nanko'teket, aqq nuji kina'muet; tleyawit Neqotkok (Tobique First Nation).

Emma Hassencahl-Perley est une artiste, commissaire d'exposition et éducatrice de Neqotkuk (Première Nation Tobique).

John Leroux

John Leroux has practised in the fields of art history, architecture, visual art, curation, and education. He is currently the manager of collections and exhibitions at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery. Leroux holds a bachelor of architecture degree from McGill University, a master’s in art history from Concordia University, and a PhD in history from the University of New Brunswick. He was a team member of Canada’s entry at the 2012 Venice Biennale in architecture, and he has taught at the University of New Brunswick, the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design, and St. Thomas University. Leroux is the author or editor of sixteen books, including Peter Powning: A Retrospective, The Lost City: Ian MacEachern’s Photographs of Saint John, and Wabanaki Modern: The Artistic Legacy of the 1960s “Micmac Indian Craftsmen”.

Reviews

“With the commentary presented in three languages (English, French, Micmac), Wabanaki Modern is a unique, informative, and critically important contribution that is unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Canadian Art History collections. ”

“With the commentary presented in three languages (English, French, Micmac), Wabanaki Modern is a unique, informative, and critically important contribution that is unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Canadian Art History collections. ”

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