Ursula Johnson's new traditions | Music | Halifax, Nova Scotia | THE COAST

Ursula Johnson's new traditions

MSVU artist residency displays Johnson's interpretations of classic aboriginal art

Ursula Johnson's new traditions
Ursula Johnson performing Elmiet

With Ursula Johnson’s MSVU Gallery artist residency this month (running until Feb 18, first open studio Saturday, January 14 10am-6pm, full studio dates below), you will get a chance to not only see into Johnston’s artistic process as she references traditional Mi’kmaq methods of Ash splint basket weaving while creating an entirely new visual impact, but you may also get a chance to see a design of your own creation be interpreted in this traditional aboriginal art form.

Says Johnson of her upcoming residency: “The work that will be produced is very interactive. I am creating forms that have never been created before, I will have a sketch book, where I will welcome people to sketch out an idea for a form they have in their mind. Then I will attempt to translate their sketch into a woven structure.” You may recognize Johnson from these pages, as she was featured on the cover of our 2010 Nocturne guide for her performance, Elmiet, which drew attention to the continued existence of the 1756 Scalping Proclamation in NS legislation. A NSCAD grad from the Eskasoni First Nation who focuses her practice on the idea cultural preservation, Johnson believes in “the importance of learning about traditional aboriginal art forms and practices that are quickly in the process of becoming forgotten.”

During Johnston’s residency, she will host a two part basketry workshop, “where the participants and myself will collaborate to create a form for the MSVU collection,” says Johnson. There will be an upcoming exhibition of this work in 2013. “The studio visits will be at least once per week. Also visitors are welcome to drop into the studio informally to come see my process whenever the gallery is open.” Johnson also aims to “educate visitors about the need to protect, preserve and re-learn these traditional methods of art production, and to learn about the economic and ecological responsibilities that we have as artists working with natural materials.”

The end of the residency in February will continue the interactive theme, “the visitors will participate in naming the forms that have been created during the residency,” says Johnson. “We will also serve some refreshments and have some entertainment from some traditional drummers.”

OPEN STUDIO DAYS Ursula Johnson welcomes visitors to her studio during these times:
Saturday, 14 January, from 10am to 5pm
Tuesday, 17 January, from 10am to 5pm
Thursday, 9 February, from 10am to 5pm

BASKETRY WORKSHOPS Free to attend. Please register by contacting 902-457-6160 [email protected]
PART 1: Saturday, 28 January, from 10am to 5pm
PART 2: Saturday, 4 February, from 10am to 5pm

Thursday, 2 February, from 5:30-7:30pm: Ursula Johnson in conversation with artist/writer, Shirley Bear, C.M.
Saturday, 11 February, 1pm: Artist’s Talk

CATALOGUING PARTY Enjoy a drumming performance and refreshments at Johnson’s end-of-residency celebration. All are welcome to view the pieces created during Johnson’s residency and to assist in naming them. The pieces will be catalogued and tagged for a future exhibition. Saturday, 18 February, from 12 to 3pm

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