Charlene Vickers / Vancouver

Photo : Robert Chaplin


Charlene Vickers is an Anishnabe artist living and working in Vancouver. Born in Kenora, Ontario and raised in Toronto, she explores her Ojibway ancestry through painting, sculpture, performance and video, examining memory, healing and em - bodied connections to ancestral lands. Trained as a painter, she graduated from the Emily Carr University of Art and De - sign in 1994 and attended Simon Fraser University, BA (1998) and MFA (2013.) Her work has been exhibited across Canada and the United States and can be found in the permanent collection at the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

Photos : Étienne Boisvert & Jean-Michael Seminaro

Sleepwalking and Speaking with Hands and Territories

My presence as Anishinabe Kwe (Ojibway Woman) and my connection to where I am from are at the core of my art practice. In the sculptural work and installation Sleepwalking and Speaking with Hands and Territories, my approach is rooted in the belief of my embodied connection to my birth place and to my ancestors. Believing in my body and the memory of my ancestral lands is paramount to my creative process and research. Making a mark within the painting, sculpture or installation as material evidences of my being. I believe in the strength of my connection to my ancestors in my work as carrying on their traditions. The Sleepwalking moccasins tell stories of cultural loss, creative intervention, care and recovery from colonialism. Believing in a new process of thought and being is key to a pathway to healing. Sleepwalking’s circle of moccasins and blankets creates a sheltered starting place for this journey.

The same is true for the space of Speaking with Hands and Territories. When we consider and acknowledge Indigenous lands and Indigenous peoples, we need to contemplate a hands-on way of thinking and active participation. The collective body activates the work and the land present within the installation through the creation of mud balls that will be placed on the hearth-like structure. The earth gathered locally and formed into mud balls by the local collectivity become markers of the initial steps of Indigenous acknowledg- ment and care of traditional territories.

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