Queen's Gazette | Queen's University

Search form

Decolonize these walls

A new Indigenous art exhibit at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre comprises four outdoor artworks, and 11 indoor artworks which will appear in January.

  • [Queen's University Soundings Indigenous Art Jeffery Hall]
    Curatorial score for the exhibition is located on Jeffery Hall, adjacent to Agnes Etherington Art Centre. (Photo by Tim Forbes)
  • [Queen's University Soundings Indigenous Art Macintosh-Corry]
    Camille Georgeson-Usher, through, in between oceans, 2018, vinyl transfer on Mackintosh-Corry Hall. (Photo by Tim Forbes)
  • [Queen's University Soundings Indigenous Art Macintosh-Corry]
    Ogimaa Mikana, Never Stuck, 2018, vinyl transfer on Mackintosh-Corry Hall. (Photo by Tim Forbes)

Students, employees, and visitors to campus may have noticed a number of public art displays installed this fall, which are located around Mackintosh-Corry Hall, Jeffery Hall, and Harrison-LeCaine Hall.

The four artworks are part of an exhibition which opens in January at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre called Soundings: An Exhibition in Five Parts. The exhibition was curated by Dylan Robinson, Assistant Professor and Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Arts, and internationally-renowned Indigenous curator Candice Hopkins. It features newly-commissioned scores, sounds, and performances by Indigenous artists.

“One of the recommendations of the Queen’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission Final Report ‘Yakwanastahentéha Aankenjigemi: Extending the Rafters’ was that Indigenous history and culture become part of the physical make-up of the university,” says Dr. Robinson. “Not only do these artworks respond to this recommendation, but in some cases also ask viewers to reconsider the built environment and colonial architecture of the university.”

Soundings is affiliated with the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts’ concurrent Ka’tarohkwi Festival of Indigenous Arts. Visit their website for more details on a diverse array of performances by acclaimed Indigenous artists working across theatre, dance, music, film and performance art.

These outdoor artworks are the first component of Soundings, which features 11 additional new works by Indigenous artists inside the Agnes Etherington Art Centre. When the exhibition opens on Saturday, Jan. 5, it will include video, objects, graphic notation, Indigenous cultural belongings, and written instructions for visitors. Uniquely, each of these new artworks functions as a “score,” yet rather than written in music notation these scores are written symbols, language, and recorded instructions. At different moments during the exhibition, these scores will be activated by musicians, dancers, performers, and members of the public, and gradually fill the gallery and surrounding public spaces with sound, performance, and action.

“The scope, public presence, ambition, urgent cultural currency, and performance-driven character of this exhibition project make Soundings a landmark in Agnes’s program history,” says Jan Allen, Director of the Agnes. “Soundings curators Dr. Robinson and Ms. Hopkins are bringing leading Indigenous artists together around a powerful invitation to express the terms of reconciliation. I’m thrilled to see the results unfolding from this high level of creative exchange.”

Soundings is on view through Sunday, April 7, 2019. Watch for upcoming performances of the works announced in the At Agnes newsletter, and on the gallery’s website.

The presentation of these outdoor artworks is generously supported through the Isabel & Alfred Bader Fund of Bader Philanthropies.