Wiigwas Manidoog Descendants is the first solo exhibition of works by artist Helen Pelletier. Her etched baskets, objects, garments, and accessories express her relationship with Wiigwas, or birchbark, and reflect the love she feels for the land.
image: Helen Pelletier, Ni Daanis, birchbark backpack 2023. Private collection.
In the forest near her home, on the sacred territory of Anemki Wajiw (Thunder Mountain), Helen carefully harvests birchbark in the summer and early spring. While her art is rooted in Ojibway imagery, teachings, and traditions, she continues to grow her connection with Wiigwas to awaken new designs of wearable art including backpacks, hats, and skirts. Helen often completes her works with home-tanned hide and other natural materials sourced from friends, family, and fellow artists, which deepens each object’s meaning and power.
Helen Pelletier is an Anishinabe kwe from Fort William First Nation. Helen has worked with Wiigwas for twenty years and recently developed a relationship with winter birchbark and sgraffito style etching. Helen credits her Wiigwas knowledge to family, community, elders, and friends. Helen has exhibited her work in “Their Breath in Beads” (2019) and the Northern Ontario Juried Exhibition in 2019 and 2022 at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery. Helen also exhibited her work Indigenous Fashion Arts Festival marketplace in the Northern Ontario Spotlight in 2020.
image: Helen Pelletier on Fort William First Nation.
All images by: Chondron Photography.