Untitled Art Society will now be known as The Bows
We are no longer untitled; after several years of considered thinking, conversation, and collaboration, the artist-run centre that since 1994 has been known as Untitled Art Society will now be called The Bows.
This renaming comes from a desire to acknowledge the place—broadly speaking, Mohkínstsis/Calgary, Alberta, Treaty 7 Territory—where we live and work. Proximate to our two spaces, which include artist studios, offices, and our gallery, two rivers meet, the Bow and the Elbow—the bows. The rivers’ confluence has given life, power, and direction over many millennia, long before colonial contact. It has been named by many. Mohkínstsis is the Blackfoot word for “elbow,” Wincheesh-pah is the Stoney word for “elbow,” and Kootsisáw is the Tsuut’ina word for “elbow,” all variations that speak to a unity and history of how the land on which we work has been named. Choosing the name The Bows reflects our intention to honour this history.
The Bows also reflects the organization’s Living Text project, which is an endeavour to acknowledge the land in a way that is nuanced, multi-valent, tender, complex, cross-generational, multi-disciplinary, and ultimately: collaborative. Living Text is an ongoing project with contributions by Tamara Lee-Anne Cardinal and Curtis Running Rabbit-Lefthand, and coordinated by Richelle Bear Hat and Natasha Chaykowski. According to Running Rabbit-Lefthand, in Blackfoot, a name is not earned and then bestowed. Rather, it is given as something one is expected to live up to—continually. In this way The Bows is an impelling and humbling name for us, one we will continually strive to be deserving of.
Because it references the land, the nameis a model for how we might accomplish our work: sustainably, relationally, and with accountability. As an artist-run centre that hosts artists from many different places, we are responsible for engaging guests in the perennial process of learning about, and listening to, the land and its traditional custodians. As the foundation of this work, we remain committed to supporting Black, Indigenous and POC artists, not merely in regard to inclusion, but within the structures and operations of our organization.
We aspire to be like the confluence of rivers—a place of perpetual encounter, offering life and stability through movement, regeneration. The Bows refers both to the site, and the act, of two rivers meeting. After rivers meet, they become a new entity: a collaborative being.
We look forward to welcoming our communities to The Bows—to recognize the land and its stories, as we create and tell stories of our own.
Thank you to all those who took part in the many years of conversation that culminated in this decision: our Board of Directors, past and present; consultants Richelle Bear Hat, Curtis Running Rabbit-Lefthand, and Tamara Lee-Anne Cardinal; Karly Mortimer for her conversation facilitation; summer student staff including Toni Cormier and ma̱lidi/Mercedes Webb; and staff including Kaylee Maciejko and Natasha Chaykowski.
About The Bows
The Bows is an artist-run centre in Mohkínstsis/Calgary, Alberta, Treaty 7 Territory. Our core goals are: to support the development, creation, and presentation of new work by early-career artists; to provide affordable studio space for local artists; and to broaden the reach and scope of contemporary art in Mohkínstsis/Calgary, with the ultimate, if ambitious, aim to expose Calgarians to artistic work that explores pressing contemporary issues. We work toward these goals with an artist-centric approach that prioritizes the wholesale support of artists; creative and radical uses of spaces outside of the gallery; and a curatorial focus on projects and practices that dovetail with the specific socio-political, cultural, colonial, economic, and Indigenous histories and contexts of Treaty 7. Ultimately, The Bows strives to empower and support artists to imagine different futures and radical nows, and to invite those inside and outside of our community to be co-conspirators in realizing such realities.
We gratefully acknowledge funding from the Canada Council for the Arts, Alberta Foundation for the Arts, Calgary Arts Development, and the AGLC. Recent project funders include the Rozsa Foundation, the Calgary Foundation, Alberta Culture and Tourism, and the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, and ongoing support from Resolve Photo. We are a grateful recipient of one of the inaugural Lacey Prizes.
Natasha Chaykowski, Director
According to Akimbo’s accessibility guidelines, this venue is accessible.