Water is Life. Madaabii is the Anishnaabemowin (Ojibway language) term for “s/he/they go down to shore.”
Madaabii is also the name for a bold and ground breaking commissioning project underway at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery.
Eventually these commissioned works will form the first exhibition when the Thunder Bay Art Gallery goes down to the water’s edge and opens its new Art Gallery on Lake Superior at Thunder Bay’s waterfront.
Twenty-seven artists have been commissioned to produce original works reflecting the concept of madaabii on the shores of Gichigami (Lake Superior). The group of artists is diverse: Indigenous, non-Indigenous, young and emerging, mid-career, and established artists; mostly local and regional, with nationally renowned artists who have connections here. The range and use of media are likewise varied, expansive, and as dynamic as the waves and shores of this powerful lake.
Traditional methods including carving, basketry, ceramics and painting combine with natural elements such as bone, driftwood, and water itself to portray and participate in the changing social and cultural nature of this unique landscape.
These works explore some fundamental issues of our time: the increasing environmental degradation of land and water and protection of Indigenous land rights and traditional knowledge’s are pressing concerns with deep human impacts on the shores of Gichigami. These issues have long shaped our region and country and they continue to inform the present and future of Canada.
The lake-informed perspectives on materials and theme will also be of interest to students of art, history, and material culture. The Thunder Bay Art Gallery’s new facility will provide a national and indeed, an international platform to contemplate these evolving ideas through art. The new gallery and this multi-faceted exhibition of exciting new works will define Thunder Bay as a major arts and culture destination in Canada.
As we near the end of the commissioning phase details of the artists’ concepts and intent in their works will be gradually revealed over the coming weeks in short, reflective video interviews, here on the Gallery’s website and through our social media channels.
The Thunder Bay Art Gallery is grateful to the New Chapter program of the Canada Council for the extraordinary financial assistance which has made this commissioning project possible. The Gallery also acknowledges the dedication of the 27 artists who are part of this project, coordinator Robin Faye, and filmmaker Zoe Gordon, Cricket Studios who is helping to bring the artists’ work to you in advance of the exhibition opening.
This is one of the 200 exceptional projects funded through the Canada Council for the Arts’ New Chapter initiative. With this $35M initiative, the Council supports the creation and sharing of the arts in communities across Canada.