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Rebecca Belmore Artist Talk

Wed. Apr. 9 05:30 PM - Wed. Apr. 9 06:30 PM
Location: University of Winnipeg

Rebecca Belmore Artist Talk Rebecca Belmore Bead Making Workshop Rebecca Belmore Bead Making Workshop Rebecca Belmore Bead Making Workshop Rebecca Belmore Bead Making Workshop Rebecca Belmore Bead Making Workshop

photo credits: Kimberley Moore

On Wed. April 09, 2014, artist Rebecca Belmore and Workshop Assistant Theo Pelmus visited the University of Winnipeg to speak about Belmore’s current project TRACE, which will be displayed as part of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights’ permanent collection (opening Sept. 2014). By taking those in attendance on a brief journey through her previous works including: Ayumee-aawach Oomama-mowan: Speaking to Their Mother (1991–96 & 2008), Freeze (2006), Victorious (2008), among others, Belmore underscored the aspect of her artistic practice that connects the physical land with its people.

Speaking about TRACE Belmore shared moments of her inspiration: arriving in Winnipeg to feel the significance of Red and Assiniboine Rivers, the naturalness of the shape of hung cloth, and the shifting of volumes of Winnipeg’s Red River “gumbo” clay to build a foundation for the CMHR. (She also noted that, poetic as the thought is, the clay is not from the Museum site itself but rather sourced from various locations around Winnipeg with the assistance of Atkins Underground.) She also reflected on the elemental nature of TRACE: it’s many hours of voluntary labour, and the cost-free, earth-sourced materials resulting in a piece that will last over generations as “a snapshot of 2014.”

Pelmus, responsible for facilitating the core processes of Belmore’s sculpture (notably the community workshops held a Neechi Commons where the volunteers crafted the beads) also shared his perspective as Workshop Assistant. He noted the significance of amassing small actions and pieces in order to create this project. He described the many hands that worked to shape lumps of clay, his role in transforming the formed clay into beads by piercing them (thousands of times over), and the imminent assembly of these individual beads into the strings that will form the blanket. Although Belmore described this final step as uncomplicated, her use of the words “aircraft-cable”, “re-bar”, and “engineers” suggest that the installation of this 40’ high sculpture will be an accomplishment in itself.

For those who missed this talk, you will want to get to the CMHR when it opens – if only to see TRACE and the stunning appearance of Red River “gumbo” after it has been fired in a kiln. (You’ll find no spoilers in the photo gallery above!) The Artists’ Talk was presented by The Department of History, the Department of English, The Department of Women’s and Gender Studies, the Institute for Women’s and Gender Studies and the Cultural Studies Research Group and held at the Oral History Centre at the University of Winnipeg