lights camera sound actions | time-based contemporary art

The Grass Is Still Green, 2016

2 digital prints, vinyl text
exhibited at Rodman Hall Art Centre, St. Catharines, ON, June 4 – August 21, 2016
Curator: Marcie Bronson
part of the exhibition, The Grass Is Still Green, also including the artist’s garden, The Grass Is Still Green, and the video Walking the Talk.

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photos: Jimmy Limit

I am a place-based artist. One of my strategies for expressing place is to fulfill my responsibility as a settler for reconciliation between First Nations and Canadians, and I began to explore this in 1990 soon after I returned to Niagara. This project responds to Reading the Talk, an exhibition addressing the wampum treaty, Dish With One Spoon, which was exhibited at Rodman Hall at the same time. As a settler, I have a role in the 1613 wampum representing an agreement between the Haundenosaunee and Europeans, the Two Row Wampum, and I take it as my responsibility in this time of reconciliation to honour the Haundenosaunee interpretation of this treaty.

The Two Row outlines a commitment to friendship, peace between peoples, and living in parallel forever. Forever is described as, as long as the grass is green, as long as the rivers flow downhill and as long as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. This treaty has not been kept, as is particularly evident in Canada’s relentless policies of assimilation.

The installation features photo panels and text affirming that, yes, the grass is still green, the creek below us still flows downhill and the sun still rises in the east and sets in the west.

The two images are grounded in the gallery and its site, a strategy meant to emphasize that honouring treaties begins where we are and we are all treaty people. The first image is based on an archival photo of Thomas Rodman Merritt and his wife Mary Benson Merritt, on the grounds of their home Rodman Hall, in the exact spot viewed out the window behind the viewer. The second is of the Twelve Mile Creek taken at the foot of the garden below Rodman Hall. The window and vinyl text face west.

Thank-you to Danny Custodio for his assistance.

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