Held in the Hand: Beading and Family History


Held in the Hand: Beading and Family History as art practice in the work of Jobena Petonoquot and Teresa Vander Meer-Chassé

Curated by Lori Beavis

March 5 – April 17, 2021

378 Aylmer Street N
Peterborough, ON

Artspace is pleased to present, Held in the Hand: Beading and Family History as art practice in the work of Jobena Petonoquot and Teresa Vander Meer-Chassé.

This web-based exhibition brings together digital images of recent work by artists, Jobena Petonoquot and Teresa Vander Meer Chassé. Jobena Petonoquot is an Algonquin artist from Kitigan Zibi, Quebec. Teresa Vander Meer-Chassé is a member of the White River First Nation of Beaver Creek, Yukon and Alaska.

For both of these artists, beading creates an intrinsic relationship with story-telling as it activates wholistic knowing and provides an outlet to collect, understand and convey knowledges in many meaningful and relevant ways within an Indigenous worldview – Algonquin and Upper Tanana, in the case of these two artists. For each artist, the beads and related materials help express the stories that they need to tell.

Petonoquot and Vander Meer Chassé are interested in how actions determine survival for First Nations people. Each artist is creating art that she hopes will start a dialogue that encourages viewers to look further into the history and experiences of Indigenous people in Canada. This work – mostly worked in beading conveys the history of this country as a colonized space and one in which there is an on-going Indigenous presence while at the same time speaks to the importance of passing histories, family stories, knowledge and skills from one generation to another.

This is a virtual exhibition about can be viewed here:


Teresa Vander Meer-Chassé (b. 1992), known affectionately as Ddhälh kït Nelnah, is a proud member of the White River First Nation of Beaver Creek, Yukon and Alaska. She is an Upper Tanana visual artist, emerging curator, and MFA student at Concordia University.Teresa was taught to bead by her Grandma Marilyn John, an Upper Tanana Elder and residential school Survivor, at the young age of eight. When Teresa’s grandma taught her to bead, she used the “watch and learn” method of teaching which allowed Teresa the space to explore and learn for herself. All the skills and techniques she developed were through self-taught methods of trial and error. Teresa’s beadwork is inspired by the people in her life and those that came before. Her artworks often relate to the reclamation of oppressed voice, upcycling of the discarded, and ongoing preservation of Upper Tanana beliefs. The mentorship with her grandma now involves language revitalization, Traditional Knowledge sharing, and teachings around the processing of, what Teresa refers to as, sleeping materials. Teresa strives to continue to make her family and community proud with the work she creates and to be a representative of Upper Tanana people wherever her artworks are shown.

Jobena Petonoquot was born in 1980 in Kitigan Zibi, Quebec. She has a bachelors in Fine Art majoring in Art History & minor in Photography from Concordia University (2012). Jobena’s art work flows mainly from her maternal grandfather of Anishnabe and Irish descent. Her art practice emphasizes resilience and pride in her aboriginal identity, as well as the defence of traditional values. Through beadwork technique and photography, she creates narrative works that are a critical and sensitive look at Canada’s colonial history, as well as highlighting the beauty of her culture and her love of the land. She was co-collaborator of The Native Arts & Craft Initiative (2013-2014) with the Naskapi Community center, she also acted as an art instructor for this pilot project. She has contributed her work most notably to Walking With Our Sisters (2013-2019) curated and created by Christie Belcourt. Her work Drinking Tea with the Queen and My Grandfather Trapped the Rabbit has been featured in Kanata McGill Undergraduate Journal of Indigenous Studies at McGill University in Volume 6 & 7. Jobena is the first Indigenous winner of the Impressions artist residency (2018) at the Montreal Museum of Fine Art with the support of Conseil des arts de Montréal (CAM) which is a two months-long research residency, followed by a solo exhibition. Rebellion of my Ancestors; also exhibited at the Warren G Flowers Gallery(2019). In 2020 her artwork has been featured in the BACA Bienale at Art Mur in Montreal, Quebec, and her work has been exhibited in the Bead by Bead group exhibition at Gallery Meteque in Montreal, QC. Her work is in the Indigenous Art Centre Collection, Gatineau, Quebec. Currently she is in Artroduction (2021) at Galerie 3, Quebec City, QC.

Lori Beavis is a curator, art educator and art historian living and working in Tiohtià:ke/ Montreal. Identifying as being of Michi Sagiig (Mississauga) Anishinaabe and Irish-Welsh descent, she is a citizen of Hiawatha First Nation at Rice Lake, Ontario. Her curatorial work, art practice and research, articulates narrative and memory in the context of family and cultural history, and reflects on cultural identity, art education and self-representation. Her independent curatorial practice – solo and with co-curators The Rebel Yells; Dress and Political Re-dress in Contemporary Indigenous Art Rhonda L. Meier (2015), Maria Ezcurra and Natasha Reid (Invisible: body as reflective site, 2019) has objectively worked to further conversations on art, identity and self-representation Shelley Niro: Buffet (2016); Rebellion of my Ancestors: Jobena Petonoquot (2018); Shelley Niro: women land river (2019); mazinigwaaso / to bead something Barry Ace: Bandolier Bags as Cultural Conduit (2019). Beavis is the director of Centre d’art daphne, Tiohtià:ke’s first Indigenous artist-run centre. She serves on the Executive of the Aboriginal Curatorial Collective/ Collectif des Commissaires Autochtones (ACC-CCA) Board of Directors.

If you have any questions please contact:

Bec Groves
Interim Director