January 17, 2013

First Nations artists explore printmaking


---- — SARANAC LAKE — “Tsi Non: We Tewen: Teron” (”Where Our Home is”) is a thought-provoking exhibition of traditional and digital prints by young Mohawks of Kanehsatake.

BluSeed Studio hosts a special closing reception for the artists from 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 26, in Saranac Lake.

The artists are: Roger Nelson, Jasmin Gunn, Dakota Bonspille, Jason Montour, Kyle Bonspille, Felix Jacobson Drolet, Craig Nicholas, Melissa Cree, Sherry Benedict, Melinda Nelson, Alannah Gabriel, Audrey Avery and Martin Loft.

The touring exhibition features prints created at the Centre de l’Image et de l’Estampe de Mirabel (CIEM) in Quebec from 2007 to 2010.

Loft, an artist affiliated with CIEM, did a workshop at BluSeed.

“We became acquainted with that organization, and Martin told me about the exhibition and (asked) ‘Would we be interested in it crossing the border and coming to BluSeed?’” said Carole Marie Vossler, artistic director. 

“It was a wonderful idea, and I was excited about it. Part of our mission is bringing diversity to the community.”

The Mohawk artists attended CIEM for a three-year period and received annual scholarships. Each internship has an open theme based on identity, territory and mythology.

“That was the narrative thread that the young artists used to base their prints on,” Vossler said. “One of the goals of this exhibition and this mentoring internship was to introduce young Mohawk artists to the printmaking process and to open up a new method and art form that is not traditionally available in the Mohawk community.”

Roger Nelson depicts rapturous beings ascending skyward in his etching “Petroglyphia 3, We Rise to a New World.”

A black bird pecks at a bloody, heart-shaped object in Gunn’s woodcut “The Element of Murder.”

“Dad,” an etching by Nicholas, recalls the Indian Wars of the 1990s.

“I see quite an amazing array of interpretation by the young artists not only on what their culture and tradition is based on, but it seems to me on how they are perceived based on some stereotypes,” Vossler said.

“They have a lot of pride in where they came from and who they are as a nation. There are some really great political messages that are very deliberate images that are pretty blunt in their message and how First Nations have been treated historically and how they fit in now.”

Email Robin Caudell:

IF YOU GO WHAT: "Tsi Non: We Tewen: Teron" ("Where Our Home is"), an exhibition of prints by Kanehsatake Mohawks. WHEN: Special closing reception from 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 26. WHERE: BluSeed Studios, 24 Cedar St., Saranac Lake. HOURS: Noon to 6 pm. Tuesday through Saturday, or by appointment. CONTACT: 891-3799.