Creativity Knows No Bounds

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Article: Robyn Tocker – A&C Editor

Joi T. Arcand explores her memories through art

Art is known to bridge many gaps, but none so poignantly as the topics most try to avoid. Racism is, unfortunately, still one of those topics. Artist Joi T. Arcand, a Bachelor of Fine Arts graduate of the University of Saskatchewan, created a gallery over the span of ten years that has blatantly addressed the racism she has faced as a Cree and Metis woman.

Through That Which is Scene holds a variety of mixed media work, mainly photographs, that were inspired by many events. There is the “Cultivate” series which shows Arcand taking pictures from her childhood and retaking them as an adult.

“The Cultivate series are recreations of old family photos from my childhood. It was interesting to revisit these photos and recreate them in similar locations,” said Arcand.

She also did another series called “The Postcard Series.”

“It came about from a road trip I took to the states where I noticed a lot of the gas stations we stopped at had really stereotypical “Indian” imagery, souvenirs and postcards for sale,” said Arcand. “I wanted to confront those stereotypes as they related to my own life by using the postcard medium to tell anecdotes of racism that my family or I have encountered.”

joi-t-arcand1Arcand tells stories with all her pieces; most, unfortunately, are sad but necessary to tell. As a woman coming from a mixed-race background, Arcand’s work is intertwined with not only her community, but her own singular story as a human being. With her work, she explains how her sense of self was shaped by her skin colour and especially how the media portrayed her skin.

Arcand’s dioramas, her newest pieces in the gallery, host a collection of cut out photos from her childhood and toys from that period in her life. She calls them an “ongoing project,” as her racist toy collection continues to grow. She mentioned how they are her favourite pieces in the gallery.

The assistant curator of the Dunlop Art Gallery, Blair Fornwald, states, “The dioramas are among my favourites. You’re given a surplus of information and we can create our own narratives.”

Despite the grounds women have made in the work force, the art world can still pose challenges to female artists, especially those of a non-European decent.

“My journey in the ‘art world’ started in university when I was exposed to the work of some really ground breaking Indigenous artists like Rebecca Belmore and Lori Blondeau. The work that they have done and the work of those that have come before them have perhaps made it easier for my generation, but there are still many obstacles to overcome,” she said.

The artist urges those looking to get involved in the art world to keep creating.

“Even if you think what you are doing sucks. Creating and failing are important and go hand in hand. When you find your own voice people will take notice.”

Joi T. Arcand’s gallery, Through That Which is Scene, is being hosted by The Dunlop Art Gallery on 6121 Rochdale Boulevard until October 17, 2013.

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