February 17 – April 20, 2024
Opening reception: Saturday, February 17, 2024, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Sierra Barber: Sky Flowers
Curator: Katsitsanoron Dumoulin-Bush

Galerie Shé:kon
5826, rue St-Hubert, 2nd floor
Tiohtià:ke / Mooniyang / Montréal (QC) H2S 2L7

Born to Blossom
Texte by Katsitsanoron Dumoulin-Bush

Coming inside from the cold, concrete wonderland that is the beginning of Montreal’s winter to be greeted by lush vegetation and clear skies is nothing less than invigorating. Sierra Barber’s mFA studio is a pristine workspace framed by the colourful work that she’s been producing over the last year. The ripe fruits on her beaded paintings make her studio feel more like outside than outside does.

Stories of the strawberry – the Haudenosaunee medicine/fruit – are stories that Barber knows well. As in nature, the seeds of the strawberry are particularly resilient, and flourish even after having been displaced from their area of origin. When Sky Woman – a central figure in the Haudenosaunee creation story – fell from Sky World, she came with nothing but a few seeds – strawberries being one of them. From those few seeds, and a bit of earth, Sky Woman created the continent, the story of us all. In Barber’s case, whether her berries appear on canvas, or stand on their own as fragments of a not-yet-revealed whole, they look like they are not only alive, but thriving. This environment where meaning is found in material as much as motif, is the place where her practice can sing.

Since 2017, Sierra has been inspired by that same resilience, working to explore and reclaim every part of her identity through her artistic work. Also inspired by her father’s practice, she combines oil painting and beadwork to share stories that she knows and ones that she is yet to assemble. The clean lines and bold colours of her paintings are matched by her glimmering, tight beadwork. With the beads appearing to be simultaneously fused to, and emerging out of their canvas environment, Barber’s work invites the viewer to an immersive experience where sight, touch, and even taste are stimulated.

Works Cited:
Cultural Teachings – Kingston Indigenous Language Nest. kingstonindigenouslanguage.ca/cultural-teachings.
“An Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) Creation Story.” https://learning.hccs.edu/, http://learning.hccs.edu/…/addi…/iroquois-creation-story. Accessed 17 Dec. 2023.
“Four Directions Teachings.” Four Directions Teachings, 2006, fourdirectionsteachings.com/transcripts/mohawk.pdf

Galerie She:kon, which means “hello” in Kanien’kéhà, focuses on showcasing solo exhibitions by up-and-coming Indigenous artists. This initiative aims to uncover fresh talent and provide an opportunity for those interested in curating their first exhibition.

Acknowledgements

La Biennale d’art contemporain autochtone / The Contemporary Native Art Biennial (BACA) would like to thank the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec (CALQ) for their financial support.