2 digital prints, vinyl text
I am a place-based artist. One of my strategies for expressing place is to address the relationships among First Nations and Canadians, and I began to explore this soon after returning to Niagara. This project responds to Reading the Talk, an exhibition addressing the wampum treaty, Dish With One Spoon. As a settler, I have a role in the 1613 wampum representing an agreement between the Haundenosaunee and Europeans, the Two Row Wampum, and I take it as my responsibility in this time of reconciliation to honour the Haundenosaunee interpretation of this treaty.
The Two Row outlines a commitment to friendship, peace between peoples, and living in parallel forever. Forever is described as, as long as the grass is green, as long as the rivers flow downhill and as long as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. This treaty has not been kept, as is evident in Canada’s relentless policies of assimilation.
The two images are grounded in the gallery and its site, emphasizing that honouring treaties begins where we are. The first image is based on an archival photo of Thomas Rodman Merritt and his wife Mary Benson Merritt, on the grounds of their home Rodman Hall, in the exact spot viewed out the window behind the viewer. The second is of the Twelve Mile Creek taken at the foot of the garden below Rodman Hall. The window and vinyl text face west.
Exhibited in Elizabeth Chitty: The Grass Is Still Green, at Rodman Hall Art Centre, 2016.
This exhibition was winner of the 2017 OAAG Award, Exhibition of the Year Under, $10,000. Other works in the exhibition: Walking the Talk and The Grass Is Still Green.
Thank-you to Danny Custodio for technical support.
I acknowledge many teachings generously offered over many years and thank Rick Hill for his teaching and our conversation about my engagement as a settler with wampum belts.
Photos: Jimmy Limit