SPACE: Joi T. Arcand

13 April 2019 - 10 August 2019
Opening Reception 12 April 2019 7pm

the flavour of change

the land has changed
no longer do the grandmothers pick
from the wild breast of our mother
we no longer move with the season
with the herds
since Treaty
we have had to learn to find value in what the land gives us
from this space where we have been placed
displaced yet we find livelihood
domestic animals
domestic lands
servants of survival

each morning before the sun breathes light onto this land
the grandmothers pin back their hair
wash their hands in basins of warm water
tie their kerchiefs of pinks and reds
to catch the sweat of their labour
long days on their aching feet
comforted only by the moose hide wraparounds
from grandmothers who knew the wild
knew how to chew the hide
to embrace feet with a supple caress
those born now do not necessarily know
the magic of moose nose soup
or the intricate significance of each bone muscle organ
memories held under tied back hair and kerchiefs
wrapped around
from grandmothers

we learned that with change
one thing did not
one animal can provide for many needs
waking before the sun
to give thanks and pull flavours from animals in ramshackle barn stalls
then haul pails splashing with the weight of each step to the porch
where grandmothers churn and churn and churn
to fill our mouths
with butter
found wealth from a changed land

—Mika Lafond

Installation views: I was born with butter in my mouth, Mercer Union, 2019. Courtesy the artist. Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid.

SPACE is a billboard project located on the east façade of Mercer Union. Joi T. Arcand’s i was born with butter in my mouth (2019) is the final edition in a series of billboards commissioned by Mercer Union. An accompanying text written by Mika Lafond is featured above.

Joi T. Arcand is an artist from Muskeg Lake Cree Nation, Saskatchewan,Treaty 6 Territory. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with Great Distinction from the University of Saskatchewan (2005). Recent solo exhibitions have been presented at Walter Phillips Gallery, Banff (2017); ODD Gallery, Dawson City (2016); Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon (2014); Wanuskewin Heritage Park, Saskatoon (2014); Dunlop Art Gallery, Regina (2013); and Gallery 101, Ottawa (2012). She is founder and editor of the Indigenous art magazine, kimiwan (2012–14); and in 2017 curated the group exhibition Language of Puncture at Gallery 101, Ottawa.

Mika Lafond is a member of Muskeg Lake Cree Nation. She holds an MFA in Writing from the University of Saskatchewan where she also currently teaches. Her poetry has been published in the Malahat Review, kimiwan zine, and has been included in several anthologies. Her first book of poetry, nipê wânîn: my way back was published in 2017 by Thistledown Press and follows the journey of one woman discovering her Cree heritage and how it has come to shape her. Lafond is currently at work with the Saskatoon Public School Division’s Indigenous Ensemble on the production of her first stage play entitled otâcimow.

Image: Joi T. Arcand,  i was born with butter in my mouth (2019). Commissioned by Mercer Union, 2019. Courtesy the artist.