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KI artist focuses on family connections

Friday January 24, 2014
Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug’s Jean Marshall focused on family members in her latest art exhibition, Surface and Symbol, which is on exhibition from Jan. 10-Feb. 15 at Definitely Superior Art Gallery.

Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug’s Jean Marshall focused on family members in her latest art exhibition, Surface and Symbol, which is on exhibition from Jan. 10-Feb. 15 at Definitely Superior Art Gallery.

“I did the drum series to acknowledge my family,” Marshall said during the Jan. 10 opening reception. “I started the first one with my great grandpa Jeremiah, and it’s called Travel in Glass. Jeremiah was notorious for writing in his journals, he was always writing everything down and there was a fire and his journals got burned in the fire but some of them were saved by my mom. But my uncle said there will come a day when we all travel by glass.”
Marshall said each of the drums have their own story.

“The drums are portraits of family members,” Marshall said, noting the portraits span a timeframe from before she was born to the life of her recently-born niece. “I sewed beadwork on to the hide and I silkscreened images on to the hide itself.”

Marshall said the exhibition has opened up “a lot of doors” with her family.

“Even though I didn’t go to residential school, I kind of feel like I did go to residential school because of my mom and my grandparents as well,” Marshall said. “It hasn’t started hitting me until the last couple of years — it is a cycle that is repeating so we acknowledged it and started talking about it and sharing the experiences.”

Marshall said it is “kind of empowering” to acknowledge, to let go and to start forgiving her feelings about residential school.

“That’s what my mom did,” Marshall said. “It was really helpful to hear my mom let go of these things, because she never talked about them before. Now she’s in her 60s and she’s realizing that she needs to start saying these things for us to heal too.”

Marshall’s mother, Charlotte Marten, flew in from Lethbridge, Alberta to attend the opening reception.

“I am extremely proud,” Marten said about her daughter’s art. “I can only hope that she propels other young people to seek out their artistic values and whatever you need to do to be healthy.”

Marten said her daughter’s exhibition completes a full circle.

“She can do and make anything,” Marten said. “And I think that is really amazing.”

Surface and Symbol was first exhibited at the Ontario Crafts Council from Aug. 8-Sept. 28, 2013 in Toronto. Curated by Suzanne Morrissette, a Cree-Métis artist, curator and writer from Winnipeg, the exhibition focuses on Marshall’s appreciation for materials and process, utilizing beads, fabric, hide and leather to express her ideas about identity which responds to the character and stories of family and friends from places such as her mother’s home community of KI and Thunder Bay.

Marshall draws upon skills and processes in her work that she has learned through personal research and through conversations and experiences with other artists.

A professionally recognized artist and founding member of the Anemki Art Collective in Thunder Bay, Marshall is also responsible for organizing/curating a number of exhibitions shown throughout Ontario.


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