Brandon University intends to permanently mark the first-ever National Day for Truth and Reconciliation with the commissioning of a piece of public art.
The University has asked celebrated Cree/Métis artist Kevin McKenzie to develop a proposal for the art, with hopes that it can be completed and installed by spring.
“Art is a language that can communicate in the profound, challenging, and universal way that Truth and Reconciliation demands,” said BU President David Docherty, who noted that the suggestion to commission Indigenous art for the community was brought to him after Brandon University’s Day of Mourning and Reflection, earlier this year. “It will be wonderful to turn this idea into reality, and I look forward to the conversations it will spark.”
Docherty reached out to faculty in BU’s IshKaabatens Waasa Gaa Inaabateg Department of Visual Art for guidance on commissioning the art. McKenzie, an assistant professor who is a noted Indigenous artist and who has previously created significant public art, was the department’s enthusiastic recommendation.
“I am humbled and honoured to be asked to develop this proposal, and I am also energized and excited by the opportunity to participate in crafting a lasting message for our community,” McKenzie said. “I have already begun reaching out to Elders and Knowledge-Keepers and I know that their wisdom and experience will help in the creation of something truly special and deeply meaningful.”
McKenzie has extensive experience in sculpture and public art. Most notably, he has a permanent public sculpture in Whistler B.C. that was commissioned by VANOC Cultural Olympiad 2010. His artwork is also represented in the collections of the National Gallery of Canada, the MacKenzie Art Gallery, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, Manitoba Hydro Corporation, the President’s Art Collection University of Regina, First Nations University of Canada, Comox Valley Art Gallery and the Saskatchewan Arts Board.
Born in Regina, where he earned a BFA and MFA from the University of Regina, McKenzie is a member of the Cowessess First Nation of Saskatchewan, Treaty 4. During his 30-year art practice, McKenzie has exhibited nationally and internationally. Some notable exhibitions include, Changing Hands: Art Without Reservation II, Museum of Arts and Design, New York. He also participated in Don’t Stop Me Now, National Gallery of Canada. If We Never Met, Pataka Art Gallery Museum, New Zealand. His work is represented in Transformer: Native Art in Light and Sound, at the National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institute, New York, November 2017- Jan. 2019. His work was selected as the inaugural exhibition titled ASAP at Urban Shaman Contemporary Aboriginal Art Satellite Gallery Santa Fe, via Vital Spaces Santa Fe, NM USA.
The full proposal that McKenzie is developing for Brandon University will draft the artistic direction and approach for the final piece, as well as proposing the final size, location, materials, projected budget and full timeline.
The proposal is expected by the end of the year, with installation of the final artwork expected in the spring. A likely location is the Sculpture Garden in the Kavanagh Courtyard at BU, however other locations are also being considered.
- Brandon University
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