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Aylan Couchie
Artist

Toronto
August 29, 2018

Aylan Couchie is an Anishinaabekwe interdisciplinary artist and writer hailing from Nipissing First Nation in Northern Ontario. She is a NSCAD University alumna and received her MFA in Interdisciplinary Art, Media, and Design at OCAD University where she focused her studies on reconciliation and its relationship to monument and public art. Her written, gallery, and public works explore histories of the colonial/First Nations landscape, Indigenous erasure, and issues of representation and cultural appropriation. She’s been the recipient of several awards including an Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture award through the International Sculpture Centre and a Premier’s Award through Ontario Colleges. Her work has been shown internationally and her public art installations can be found in the City of Barrie and Halifax International Airport. Her project Aki is currently on display in the group exhibition Settling in Place at the MacLaren Art Centre in Barrie, Ontario.

1. Layers of histories



I’ve been thinking about, writing about, and making work about Canada’s never-ending acts of covering Indigenous places, people, and histories through commemorations and monuments. As part of a work titled Land, I intervened in the City of Barrie’s Canada 150 commemorative clock/monument by purchasing four custom-engraved bricks which act as land acknowledgements. The bricks were installed this month and read: “THIS LAND RUNS ON ANISHINAABE TIME,” “THIS LAND RUNS ON WENDAT TIME,” “NI WAAMJIGAADEG AKI” and “NI WAAMJIGAADEG DEBWEWIN.” I’m currently working along these lines on another small project with Mohawk artist and curator Ryan Rice that will be launched in the Fall. This September, I’m also honoured to be part of Dionne Brand’s latest anthology titled The Unpublished City II where I write more on this in a creative essay titled “Layers Over Layers.” The book has its official launch on September 20th at Toronto Lit Up – an event organized by the Toronto International Festival of Authors.

2. aabaakwad (it clears after a storm)



I would be remiss if I didn’t say my current and biggest obsession has been organizing the Art Gallery of Ontario’s first of five annual Indigenous gatherings. Working under Anishinaabe curator Wanda Nanibush, I’ve had the opportunity to take on this dynamic project as lead coordinator. The 2.5-day symposium brings together Indigenous artists, curators, and scholars from around the world. I’m excited about the entire line up and the people being paired up to have these conversations. Look for Alanis Obomsawin in conversation with filmmakers Alethea Arnaquq-Baril and Darlene Naponse, and Heather Igloliorte with Tania Willard, moderated by author Tanya Talaga. Richard Bell in conversation with Greg Staats and Candy Palmater? We’ve got that. Maree Clarke and Shelley Niro with Jesse Wente? We’ve got that too. Check out the full schedule.

3. Dystopian fiction



I just finished seven years of post-secondary education – the final three years resulted in eight back-to-back semesters. Now that I FINALLY have time to read anything I choose, I’ve been spending Sundays picking my way through Toronto’s used book stores. Given the current political climate in the United States and Ontario (with Trump and Ford at the helm), I’ve become fascinated with dystopian novels and the ways in which they envision authoritarian governments. I’m currently on the last few pages of Orwell’s 1984 and looking forward to starting Métis writer Cherie Dimaline’s The Marrow Thieves next. Also on the list: a re-read of Brave New World by Aldous Huxley and Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.

4. Buck-a-Beer? No thanks. Never.



Speaking of dystopia… How did Conservatives get so morally and ethically bankrupt that they agreed to let this guy lead their party? Examples of his regressive priorities: cancel basic income project, cancel updated sex ed curriculum, phase out electric vehicle incentives, teacher snitch hotlines, cut municipal council representation for Toronto residents, implement Buck-A-Beer… and this is just the beginning of the ridiculous.

5. Megan Kyak-Monteith


Megan Kyak-Monteith, Whale Hunt, oil on canvas

I first came across Megan’s work hanging in the student lounge and gallery space at NSCAD University’s Port Campus in 2016. She is an Inuk artist from Pond Inlet in Nunavut whose drawings and paintings capture her home landscapes and culture through captivating point-of-views and her expertise in mark-making. Her bold colour palette and well-honed brushwork strengthen the subjects she brings to life on canvas and leaves the viewer yearning to see more of her works. Keep an eye on this one. She’s finishing her last year at NSCAD, but I’m pretty confident she’s poised to take over Canada’s contemporary painting world. Follow her Instagram to see more of her stunning works.

 

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