Michelle Sound | Shirley Wiebe

Alternator Centre for Contemporary Art, Kelowna B.C

Michelle Sound, Kids, detail. 2022. monochrome print on paper, embroidery thread, seed beads, pony beads, vintage beads, 38” x 50” inches. Image courtesy of the artist.

The Alternator Centre for Contemporary Art presents work by Vancouver-based artists Michelle Sound and Shirley Wiebe, on view from May 19 through July 1, 2023.

Michelle Sound’s The Aunties That Do explores personal and familial narratives through consideration of Indigenous artistic processes. Her works explore cultural identities and histories by engaging materials and concepts within a contemporary context. Through practices such as drum making, caribou hair tufting, beadwork, and photography, she highlights acts of care and joy situated in family and community. Working with traditional and contemporary materials and techniques, Sound explores maternal labour, identity, cultural knowledge, and cultural inheritances.

The Aunties That Do features four unique series of works. Holding It Together is a series of large scale archival family photos, ripped to show the colonial violence that her family, and other Indigenous families, have experienced. Using beadwork, embroidery thread, porcupine quills and caribou tufting Sound symbolically mends the damage inflicted on her family.

Nimama hates fish but worked in the cannery explores Sound’s family’s relationship to the lands they have lived on, but also acknowledges their presence as visitors. 80’s Brat is a series of drums paying homage to Sound’s Aunties, a community of caretakers, and celebrates a classic Auntie style. HBC Trapline is a series of rabbit fur drums which shed light on the important role women held in the fur trade.

Shirley Wiebe, Host, 2023. PVC plastic and stainless steel rings. Image courtesy of the artist.

While Michelle Sound’s work examines her family history and relationship with places as Cree and Métis, Shirley Wiebe’s Follow a Path to the River explores these themes in the context of her Ukrainian Mennonite heritage.

Shirley Wiebe’s practice examines how memory is bound up in place and landscape through layered and composite viewpoints; how structures, objects and materials have agency to convey history and meaning; to spark personal and collective memory.

During a visit to a ruined ancestral Mennonite village in Ukraine, flooded to dam the Dnieper River, Wiebe found only an uncanny staircase deposited on the river bank. The form of this eerie architectural feature—disconnected from its initial location and function—serves as a mnemonic surrogate for obliterated place and the flight from persecution. Follow a Path to the River reflects on what is not a unique occurrence, but one that is experienced over and over. Leaving everything behind to start anew. The exhibition invites viewers to follow shifting perspectives exploring themes of displacement, endurance and identity through drawing, photography, sculpture, video and music.

Both The Aunties that Do and Follow a Path to the River will be on view from May 19, 2023 to July 1, 2023.

About the Artists

Michelle Sound is a Cree and Métis artist, educator and mother. She is a member of Wapsewsipi/Swan River First Nation in Northern Alberta, her maternal side is Cree and her paternal side is Métis from central Alberta. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Simon Fraser University, School for the Contemporary Arts, and a Master of Applied Arts from Emily Carr University Art + Design. Michelle is a 2021 Salt Spring National Art Award Finalist and has had recent exhibitions at Daphne Art Centre (Montréal), Neutral Ground ARC (Regina) and grunt gallery (Vancouver).

Shirley Wiebe is a self-taught interdisciplinary artist based in Vancouver BC. Born and raised in a rural Saskatchewan farming community, Shirley’s work is informed by a strong childhood bond with the prairie landscape. Her installation and sculptural work explores relationships between physical geography and the built environment, with a particular interest in site-specific and project-based work. Shirley has participated in a number of international art residencies and has created site-specific installations in national public art galleries and sculpture parks throughout the Pacific Northwest.

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About the Alternator Centre for Contemporary Art

The Alternator Centre for Contemporary Art is a non-profit organization dedicated to the development of our creative community.

Since 1989, the Alternator has shown the work of emerging Canadian artists and helped develop the talents of local artists by providing a network of collaboration and sharing. The Alternator fosters energetic, creative, critical discussion on art & culture. The Alternator believes in the greater positive potential of our creative community and values our role as a key contributor to the cultural life of Kelowna and beyond.

The Alternator Centre for Contemporary Art respectfully acknowledges its presence on the unceded territory of the syilx (Okanagan) people.

Alternator Centre for Contemporary Art
#103 – 421 Cawston Ave, Kelowna B.C.
(250) 868-2298

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The Alternator Centre for Contemporary Art is situated within the Rotary Centre for the Arts, which is fully accessible.