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Meet the artists behind the Ādisōke Indigenous Public Art Program

Curator of Indigenous Public Art, Ādisōke

Dawn Saunders Dahl
Dawn Saunders Dahl is a passionate advocate for Artists and Indigenous arts communities in Alberta. Since 2008, through various public art initiatives, exhibitions, projects, and events, Dawn’s work has and continues to be influenced by her deep connection to the land, her ancestral heritage, and her commitment to learning.

Dawn is of European (British and Norwegian) and Red River Métis ancestry (Ojibwe, Saulteaux, Chippewa) from St. Anne, Manitoba. She is honoured to be a member of the Métis Nation of Alberta and was gifted a Iethka (Stoney) name. Her support for Indigenous rights grew when she attended the last Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Edmonton. There, she pledged to acknowledge her own advantages and work to include Indigenous viewpoints in her roles in arts management. Dawn did not grow up in a Métis home, her upbringing was difficult and led to changing her name (she was born with the surname Grouette). She continues to explore her ancestry, uncovering the history of her European and Indigenous grandparents, Point a Grouette (now known as Ste. Agathe, Manitoba) and colonialisms’ continued impact on her administrative work and studio practices.

Dawn holds two Bachelor of Fine Art degrees in Painting and Ceramics from the University of the Arts (formerly ACAD) in Calgary. She started her administrative work while in art school and since then she has made significant contributions to the art community, establishing The Works Art & Design Festival’s Indigenous Art Program in 2008, and administering numerous public art projects including the Indigenous Art Park in Edmonton. She also initiated National Indigenous Peoples Day and a mural program the continue today in the Bow Valley. Presently, Dawn volunteers as a board member for the Alberta Craft Council and Galerie Cite in Edmonton, holds positions at the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, and serves as the Curator of Indigenous Public Art for Ādisōke.


Indigenous artists selected for Ādisōke public art commissions

Jaimie Isaac and Destiny Swiderski
Jaimie Isaac and Destiny Swiderski are a multidisciplinary team, merging their expertise in Curation, Architecture, and Art. Their partnership transcends disciplines, embodying a shared vision of art as a catalyst for dialogue and transformation.

Isaac, a member of Sagkeeng First Nation and of British ancestry from in Treaty 1 Territory, brings her background as a Curator and Artist, amplifying and centering marginalized voices and advocating for decolonization within cultural institutions. As the CBC Future 40 Finalist and the recipient of the Canadian Museums Association’s outstanding achievement award, among other distinctions has gained her recognition Nationally and Internationally.

Swiderski, of Red River Métis and Ukrainian heritage, infuses her architectural experience, fostering connections between Indigenous narratives of placemaking and the land. Swiderski’s contributions have been acknowledged as she has received an Urban Design Award and acknowledgment from the American for the Arts for community engagement for her artwork, Amiskwaciw Wâskâyhkan Ihtâwin.

Mary Anne Barkhouse
Mary Anne Barkhouse was born in Vancouver, BC but has strong ties to both coasts as her mother is from the Namgis First Nation of Alert Bay, BC and her father is of German and British descent from Nova Scotia. She graduated with Honours from the Ontario College of Art in Toronto and has exhibited widely across North America.

A member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, Barkhouse’s work can be found in numerous collections such as the National Gallery of Canada, Remai Modern in Saskatoon and the Art Gallery of Guelph. In addition, she has public art installations in many cities across Canada, most recently in ᐄᓃᐤ (ÎNÎW) River Lot 11∞ Indigenous Art Park (Edmonton, AB), the Canadian Museum of History (Gatineau, QC), and Carleton University (Ottawa, ON).

Barkhouse currently resides in the Haliburton Highlands of Ontario, adjacent to numerous beaver-created wetlands.

Barry Pottle
Barry Pottle is an Inuk artist originally from Nunatsiavut in Labrador, now living in Ottawa, Ontario. Living in Ottawa, which has the largest urban population of Inuit outside the North, it is through the camera’s lens that Barry showcases the uniqueness of this community and to which he tries to stay connected to. As a self-taught artist, Barry uses photography as a means of exploring cultural, social, and political themes that affect Inuit living in an urban setting. His goal is to help build a foundation for photography within Inuit Art and beyond and in the end, he had to name what he was trying to achieve so he named it Contemporary Urban Inuit Art Photography.
Instagram @urban.inuit.613

Claire, Emily and Mairi Brascoupe
The Three Sisters Artist Collective is comprised of Claire, Emily, and Mairi Brascoupe, three sisters who work together in the public art space. Their multi-disciplinary artistic work includes digital and analogue making, from birch-bark biting, beadwork and print-making to digital illustration, rendering and sculpture. They integrate traditional ways of artmaking, passed down through generations, into contemporary contexts by using different materials and techniques made available to us today and allowing those materials to help inform the creation of the work itself. The overall goal of their collective artistic practice through the work they have collaborated on is to bring Indigenous design and knowledge into the public realm where it can be seen, shared, engaged with, elicit questions and facilitate understanding, connection and inclusion while centering our Indigenous kin, past, present and future. Claire, Emily, and Mairi are members of Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg living in Ottawa on Algonquin Territory.
Instagram @threesistersartists

Dee Barsy
Dee Barsy (Anishinaabe-Ojibwe) is a lifelong learner, painter and visual arts educator. She is a former foster child and is an Indigenous adoptee of a transracial family. She is a member of Skownan First Nation, Manitoba (Treaty 2). She grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba, on Treaty 1 territory: the original lands of Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, and Dene peoples, and on the homeland of the Métis Nation. She lives and works in Winnipeg.

Dee’s artwork has a signature colour palette, including a teal blue background representing freedom of movement. Abstract depictions of birds can often be found within her imaginative, dreamlike spaces reminiscent of open air. Her abstract style features gestural, calligraphic-style lines and bright, vibrant colours within graphic-like shapes.

Katherine Takpannie
As a self taught emerging photographer, Katherine Takpannie honours her Inuit worldview through her lens; one that is strongly grounded in social accountability and unity. To her, photography is the best medium to reclaim her identity and explore her experiences as an urban Inuk. Katherine uses her knowledge of her history, culture and language to seamlessly convey her vision and emotion. Takpannie’s artistic practice also focuses on revealing the complexities and nuances of urban Inuit life, which includes capturing contemporary issues that Indigenous Canadians face daily. Katherine aims to help raise awareness, and bring forth important conversations through her work.

Naomi Blondin and Verna Stevens
Verna Stevens born and raised on the reserve, Verna is a member of the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation. There she learned many artistic skills including sewing moccasins and beading as well as using birchbark and moose horn to create her artworks. Designing and sewing is a creative passion for her and in the 1980’s Verna pursued her studies in Fashion Design in Montreal. She continues to make ribbon skirts and shirts alongside other sewing projects inspired by North American Native and geometric pattern designs.

Naomi Blondin is of Algonquin and French-Canadian decent and is a member of Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation.  She is a visual artist and enjoys finding the beauty in the natural world and creating her own images of the spiritual realm. Her visions and concepts are often influenced with First Nation values, current socio-economical and health disparities between Canadians and Indigenous communities.

Together, this mother-daughter artist team make for a unique combination of design conception, blending creativity with deep connections to land and spirit. Both are Anishinabe kwe (Algonquin women) strongly rooted in the territory of their ancestors, now known as the Ottawa region.

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