Amber Smith-Quail: Nawemaa / To be related

Amber Smith-Quail: Nawemaa / To be related

Beadwork, mixed-media pieces, and paintings reflect upon the truth in connections and address the forced disconnection of First People from the land.

September 7 – 26, 2023
Opening Reception: Saturday, September 9, 6pm – 9pm
Dignam Gallery, Women’s Art Association of Canada

Amber Smith-Quail’s solo exhibition, Nawemaa / to be related, is the result of reflection upon the truth in connections. A member of Alderville First Nation, Amber is an Indigenous artist and educator based in Tkaronto and South Algonquin. She has contemplated how physical, mental, spiritual and emotional imbalance does not act in isolation. The by-products of imbalance are felt throughout our relational chain. Somewhere along the way, the well-being of our relatives – flora, fauna, land, water, air and each other – has been forgotten. Smith-Quail’s beadwork, mixed-media pieces, and paintings address the forced disconnection of First People from the land.

A common thread of relationship and identity connect Smith-Quail’s works. First and foremost is family. Her mixed heritage of white settler and Anishinaabe ancestry has situated her in two cultures with different ways of knowing and being. This mix of perspectives has deeply influenced her worldview personally and artistically. As a result, her works are sometimes situational, often inspired by personal rumination over familial stories & reclamation of traditional knowledge, but always rooted in the blood memory of her Indigenous ancestry.

Amber Smith-Quail reacts and re-imagines iconography of everyday items from her own lived experience.

Amber Smith-Quail, LAND BACK, 2023, photo by artist

Land Back & This Is Native Land

Beaded medallions are created for our relatives with love, care and intention; they are sacred items. In this gallery installation the medallions will be installed over two 70’s style vintage landscape paintings from the artist’s childhood home, to convey layered messages including our attitudes toward land and Indigenous land autonomy.

Amber Smith-Quail, Woodland Quail, 2022, photo by artist

Collection of paintings on LCBO bags

The introduction of alcoholic beverages to Indigenous people on Turtle Island by European settlers has done incalculable harm to our communities for generations. This series of paintings, with woodland-style images obscuring the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) logo, symbolizes cultural reclamation and reconnection to assist in the healing and restoration of our people.

Amber Smith-Quail, detail from game board, 2017 – 2023, photo by artist

Dakiimi / to have land

Growing up as a kid, most family homes had Monopoly in their collection of board games. It was a popular form of entertainment, involving the purchase of property, houses, hotels, and there is a bank with actual play money. The player with the most property forces the other players into a state of abject poverty until they are no longer able to participate.

When reflecting upon the Indigenous experience with land theft and greed, Monopoly resurfaced from Amber Smith-Quail’s childhood memories. This painting was started in 2017 and completed in 2023 and is a reaction to the connection between acts of colonial violence and the theft of land from First People on Turtle Island.

Amber Smith-Quail’s beadwork, mixed-media pieces, paintings, and photographs of paintings will be on view at the Dignam Gallery. The exhibition is the conclusion of Amber Smith-Quail’s one year term as Artist in Residence at the Women’s Art Association of Canada.

Nawemaa / To be related is supported by the Ontario Arts Council.
Opening receptions are supported by Steam Whistle Brewing.

Dignam Gallery
Women’s Art Association of Canada
23 Prince Arthur Avenue, Toronto ON M5R 1B2