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Issue # 3

Issue # 3

Article Listing

Remembering in America: Toward a Critical Dialogue
by Shanna Ketchum

Lita Fontaine - Sacred Feminine
by Amy Karlinsky

The Last Time I Saw Venice - Rebecca Belmore's Fountain
by Cathy Mattes

Renwick for Urban Shaman
by Loren Roberts

Feathers Float
by Jenny Fraser

Concepts of Native America
by Robert Houle

Feathers Float

Feature: Feathers Float

by Jenny Fraser

Feathers float – so do clouds – and dreams. Winding a figure 8 into eternity.
Djon Mundine, Curator

 Feathers Float is the name of an exhibition used to mark a gathering – between Lita Fontaine from Winnipeg, Jeff Chief from Saskatchewan, Paul Smith from Edmonton and myself, Jenny Fraser from Brisbane. We were all drawn together to spend time at Banff in Blackfoot country.

 In negotiating the title I shared the above quote from Djon Mundine a Bundjalung man from New South Wales… our unofficial Ambassador for Aboriginal Art in Australia ; ) I had seen him write it in the front of a book that he gifted. It stays with me.

 The feather relates to all of us that belong to the Land and Animals. Feathers speak to us specifically and cross-culturally.  Since then Djon has written more on the feather for an artists memorial…

 In contemporary Aboriginal practices of other groups, feather-appendage is extended in meaning to string tassel, sacred string marking a journey, connecting landscapes, people, family lineages, and, importantly, the embryo cord linking child and mother.

A Wing of the eagle hawk, Malyan, a skin name, a scary dream-being overhead. Is it guardian angel or assassin? In the south-east, a feather left behind is often evidence of such a spiritual visit.

Honouring the feather for its cleansing and healing powers, Lita Fontaine produced her new digital work in-residence at Banff titled Protection, Broken-Hearted and the Colours of our Rainbow. The works bravely deal with issues of the heart and ceremony.

Using the tools of his trade in costume design and fashion, and also the beading techniques of his culture, Jeff Chiefs textile layers bring us an insightful view from his bedroom window at Banff. Sleeping Buffalo Mountain is sacred to the Blackfoot.   Paul Smith uses feathers as a visual icon to fill sound bubbles in his work. Feathers are one of many of the icons he used to create narrative flow in his set of 35 drawings. Using only ink on paper he has offered a stylized take on symbolism that references cartooning and also designs for inscription.

Feathers Float
View Website

My own work is part of a wider series titled 'hit the road' which was all based on roadkill of native animals on lands in the Bundjalung Nation. The series is also representative of how native people are treated by wider society in Australia - widely ignored and denied after impact, just like road kill. 

 “Feathers usually run from above the wings, illustrating the knowledge and the power given from above, to those below representing the connection from earth to sky”.
Leah Fontaine (Anishinaabe / Dakota) 

Jenny Fraser
Artist / Curator  

Feathers Float was exhibited at the Other Gallery, Banff Art Centre, Alberta Canada in July 2005 and lives-on at cyberTribe.

 Quotes from:

Wungguli – Shadow : Photographing the spirit and Michael Riley
Djon Mundine

 Soon to be published in the Catalogue for the Artists Retrospective at the National Gallery of Australia

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