HAMILTON, ON.- Ursula Johnsons practice ranges from fine craft and traditional Indigenous art forms through performance and installation. Mikwitetmn (Do You Remember) examines ideas of ancestry, identity and cultural practice. Johnson deconstructs and manipulates the function and image of Mikmaw basketry, using traditional techniques to build non-functional forms.
In Mikwitetmn, Johnson creates three distinct spaces. A Museological Grand Hall displays empty plexi vitrines bearing sand-blasted diagrams of traditional Mikmaw baskets. An Archive Room is crowded with mutant basket-type objects from the series Opltek (It is Not Right).
In the Performative Space, the artist presents an endurance performance of shaving, pounding and splitting an ash-wood log to produce a mountain of splints, as traditionally employed in Mikmaw basket-making.
Johnson explores the impact of colonialism on Indigenous material and linguistic culture, and challenges the museological and ethnographic frame imposed upon it.
Ursula Johnson is an Interdisciplinary Artist from Nova Scotia with Mikmaw Ancestry. She is currently based out of Eskasoni Nation. She obtained a BFA at NSCAD University, Halifax (2006). Her work has been featured in a number of solo exhibitions, including Lnuk (in collaboration with Jordan A. Bennett, Anna Leonowens Art Gallery, Halifax, 2012) and Opltek (Thunder Bay Art Gallery, Thunder Bay, 2010). Johnson has also exhibited in such group shows as Ke Pitem (Cape Breton University Art Gallery, Sydney, 2013), Snapshot (Khyber Centre for the Arts, Halifax, 2012) and Kakawej (Banff Centre for the Arts, Banff, 2010). In 2017, Ursula Johnson won the Sobey Art Award, Canadas biggest contemporary art prize.
Mikwitetmn (Do You Remember) has been organized and produced by Saint Marys University Art Gallery, Halifax, in collaboration with Unama'ki College and with support from the Government of Canada and the Canada Council for the Arts. The artist wishes to acknowledge support from Arts Nova Scotia.