Michipicoten artist Rolande Souliere’s Modern Day Syllabics art piece is featured in the Language of Puncture art exhibition at Gallery 101 in Ottawa from Sept. 30-Oct. 28. – Photo by Tom Loveday

By Rick Garrick

THUNDER BAY – The Modern Day Syllabics art piece is part of the Language of Puncture art exhibition, which was curated by visual artist Joi T. Arcand and is on display from Sept. 30-Oct. 28.

Souliere also worked on a public artwork that will be installed next June at Air Canada Window Park in Winnipeg for the City of Winnipeg and the Winnipeg Arts Council.

“It’s about Treaty 1,” Souliere says. “It’s a double-headed coin and it basically talks about the tightness or the unsettledness of conflicts regarding Treaty 1 and Indigenous people and the non-Indigenous people that signed it. It features two prominent chiefs and Queen Victoria and it has Turtle Island on there. It talks about how we only get $3 to this day despite the fact the treaty was signed in 1871 in Manitoba.”

Souliere is also one of six contemporary Indigenous artists from across Canada featured in the Future Memories (Present Tense) exhibition curated by Lorenzo Fusi at the Illingworth Kerr Gallery in Calgary, which runs from Oct. 6-Dec. 2.

“It’s about the forced assimilation policies in Australia and Canada (and) the similarities between those two countries because of course they are both under British law,” Souliere says. “It talks about how the church was involved in enforcing those policies — of course that relates to the Indian residential school system and in the Australian context talks about the reserves, the mission stations and also the stolen generation.”

Souliere says her work, which is called Assimilate, features the iconography of Christian symbolism, such as the church, Pope, Jesus and Mary, and Indigenous people in traditional regalia.

“On the one hand it’s a celebration, celebrating culture because we are still practicing our traditions today,” Souliere says. “On the other hand, it exposes the silent history, so crosses are made and symbols are made of Indigenous communities.”

Souliere also worked as the artist-in-residence at Alberta College of Art and Design while in Calgary.

“I was there for almost a month,” Souliere says. “You go and engage with the students, so you do artist presentations and workshops.”

Souliere also created some panels and wall paintings at the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

“I’m artist in residence there after Christmas for a couple of weeks,” Souliere says.

Souliere adds that the Coyote Responds: I Like America and America Likes Me poster series she created for Or Gallery in Vancouver, which features black and white images of artists Jackson Pollock, Joseph Beuys and Pablo Picasso covered with painted beadwork, will be displayed on streets across Toronto, Vancouver and Berlin during October.

“It’s about cultural appropriation,” Souliere says. “I basically painted all over their faces and I have my signature on street barrier tape.”

Souliere usually travels to Canada about three or four times a year for her art. She encourages people to follow their dreams and passion.

“That’s what keeps me going,” Souliere says. “It’s not about money, it’s about the love you have for your passion.”