13 February 2010

Nekt wikuhpon ehpit, Once there lived a woman: The Painting, Poetry and Politics of Shirley Bear

Beaverbrook Art Gallery to Launch Newest Publication on February 18, 2010

Fredericton, NB February 12, 2010---On Thursday, February 18 from 5-7PM the Beaverbrook Art Gallery will launch its latest publication, Nekt wikuhpon ehpit Once there lived a woman: The Painting, Poetry and Politics of Shirley Bear, an exhibition catalogue written by curator and deputy director, Terry Graff, with accompanying essays by Susan Crean and Carol Taylor.

During the launch both Ms. Bear and Mr. Graff with be available to sign copies of the publication and speak about the creation of the publication which is a complement to a major exhibition of the same name which was exhibited at the Gallery last year. Like the exhibition, the catalogue is devoted to the life’s work of senior New Brunswick artist Shirley (minqwon-minqwon) Bear. Born in the Negootiook (Tobique) First Nation Community in 1936, Bear is a member of the Maliseet First Nation and an original member of the Wabanaki Language group of New Brunswick.

Nekt wikuhpon ehpit Once there lived a woman: The Painting, Poetry and Politics of Shirley Bear chronicles the sources, inspiration, and personal circumstances that have shaped Bear’s visual art, poetry, and political activism, and presents the integral relationship amongst these important activities in her life. Countering the invisible silent status ascribed to Aboriginal women by patriarchal history and convention, the artist’s primary focus is the recovery of the essential feminine role in the ancestral life of First Nations culture, and as a central, if repressed, part of the human story. It is filled with a variety of images of women, images that are sometimes symbolic, sometimes archetypal, and sometimes representative of actual women.

Shirley Bear’s art has been featured in several one-person and group exhibitions throughout Canada, the United States, and Europe. She has curated various exhibitions related to First Nations issues, most notably Changers: A Spiritual Renaissance (1989), and is a recipient of the Excellence in the Arts Award from the New Brunswick Arts Board (2002). Her art is included in numerous private and public collections, including the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the National Arts Centre, the New Brunswick Art Bank, Carleton University, First Nations House of Learning at the University of British Columbia, and the Beaverbrook Art Gallery. She has been profiled for film and television, by CBC, the National Film Board and independent producers in such films as Minqwon Minqwon and Kwa’Nu’Te by Cathy Martin, and Keepers of the Fire by Christine Welsh. Her writing is featured in several anthologies, such as Kelusultiek: original women’s voices of Atlantic Canada (Mount St. Vincent University, 1994) and The Colour of Resistance (Sister Vision Press, 1993). Her recent book of poems is titled Virgin Bones (McGilligan Press, 2007).

Bernard Riordon, Director and CEO of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery states,“Shirley Bear is one of New Brunswick’s most accomplished senior artists, and the Beaverbrook Art Gallery is pleased to feature her work with this beautiful and informative publication.”

Author Terry Graff, “There is much to glean from this modest sampling of Shirley Bear’s highly distinctive artistic production. Shirley teaches us about the vital link between art and life, the importance of claiming the power of one’s own mind, and the necessity of remembering the ancient knowledge of one’s ancestors. Her work occupies an important place for healing and empowerment, offering great hope and potential for positive societal change”.

Nekt wikuhpon ehpit Once there lived a woman: The Painting, Poetry and Politics of Shirley Bear is currently on sale at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery Shop. It retails for $19.95. There is, as always, a discount for Gallery members.

For more information please contact Adda Mihailescu at (506) 458-2032 or adda@beaverbrookartgallery.org


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