Caroline Monnet: Holding Up The Sky

Caroline Monnet, Resilient to the Bones, 2021, Styrofoam, 73 x 97 x 3 3/4 in. Courtesy of the artist. Photo credit: Photo MBAM, Denis Farley.

Caroline Monnet
Mijimishkig ishpimig okwi
Soutenir le ciel
Holding Up The Sky

Kenozidj Kizis 13 – Kawasskotodj Kizis 23, 2023
13 janvier au 23 avril, 2023
January 13 – April 23, 2023

Opening Reception: Friday January 13, 6 – 8:00 pm
Artist’s Talk and Tour: Friday January 13, 6:45 – 7:30 pm
Art Gallery of Burlington

In this survey of new and recent works, multidisciplinary artist Caroline Monnet centers geometries, especially the cube, to draw attention to how different spatial relationships condition the way that we live and think. Monnet’s practice moves between textiles, photography, sculpture, and film to address the complexity of Indigenous identities and bilateral legacies, drawing from her Anishinaabe and French heritages. In her work, traditional Anishinaabe sacred geometry transforms and softens the industrial into something more personal, constructing a new point of view—centering the cube. As a form, the cube is present in architecture and many traditions of building, shaping the way we understand the world and dictating the ways in which we live, play, and learn. And, like the repetitious creations unfolded in birch biting, Holding Up The Sky follows a symmetrical continuum.

The exhibition features her new work The Room (2023), a ten-foot square construction of industrial-grade styrofoam, a material used in residential buildings to create water and air-resistive barriers and insulate against inclement climate conditions. The Room is open on one side, exposing the box and welcoming the audience into its constructed space. The foam is incised with a repetitive pattern; the motifs, inspired by traditional Anishinaabe iconography, break the strictness of the industrial square form by introducing the personal and the poetic into architectural rigidity.

In conversation with The Room is Pikogan (Shelter) (2021), a sculptural work with voluminous curvatures constructed of reticulated polyethylene pipes, PVC conduits, copper, velcro, and steel. The materials are bent to shape, working against the prescription of colonial architecture, and resisting the urge to square and compartmentalize. The fluidity of the circle intentionally builds from knowledge rooted in the past. This can also be seen in the direction of Monnet’s recent photographic works that depict a formal arranging and rearranging of foam “beads” into cubed borders. Manipulating the material for the camera leads to endless possible formations and configurations.

A series of technical drawings from Monnet’s early career (2014) of multiple cube structures are seen alongside a new series of diagrams, completed in a Swedish residency, mapping the ceiling of her studio. Positioning these works in conversation illustrates the circular process of Monnet’s practice—from drafting architectural forms, to utilizing structural design to underscore the severity of the housing crisis, to manipulating industrial material into textile creations and wearable fabrics, and returning to schematic renderings and geometric linework. These are simultaneously performances for the camera and blueprints for future work.

Born to an Anishinaabe mother and a French father, Caroline Monnet is from Outaouais, Québec, and now based in Montréal. After studying at the University of Ottawa and the University of Granada, in Spain, she pursued a career in visual arts and film. Her work is regularly presented internationally and can be found in prestigious museum, private, and corporate collections. Monnet has become known for minimalist yet emotionally charged work that uses industrial materials and combines the vocabulary of popular and traditional visual cultures with the tropes of modernist abstraction to create unique hybrid forms. She is represented by Blouin Division Gallery.

At the AGB, we lean into our unique position of being a public art gallery at the crossroads of craft and contemporary art production and presentation. Monnet’s work examines the traditional craft of Anishinaabe embroidery and textiles in alternative methods and materials, exemplifying the potent fluidity of craft and contemporary art. Holding Up The Sky continues the dialogue on how new material engagement takes up space within craft and how traditional and ancestral knowledge of art production is being represented in the expanded field of contemporary art institutes.

Holding Up The Sky is supported by a series of camps, workshops and outreach programs exploring geographies and narrative-building through clay, writing, and textiles. Visit our website for more information, and to learn how to take part. Registration is required for all public programs, visit to reserve your spot.

Holding Up The Sky has been made possible with the generous contribution of the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec. The AGB is supported by the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts.

Art Gallery of Burlington is proud to acknowledge that the land where it is located is part of the ancient Dish With One Spoon Treaty and also the Brant Tract Purchase, Treaty No. 3 3/4 of 1795, and it is grateful to the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation and the Six Nations of the Grand River for sharing this territory. The Art Gallery of Burlington is located at 1333 Lakeshore Road, Burlington, Ontario.

1333 Lakeshore Road Burlington, ON L7S 1A9


Exhibition guided tours available upon request
Stephanie Vegh, Head of Learning
905-632-7796, ext. 313