National Indigenous History Month

May 5th was “Red Dress Day.” The Red Dress Project was an art installation by Metis Artist Jaime Black, which she created to bring attention to the (still very real) crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. This crisis continues, and it is important for us as a nation to remember this cannot just be about honouring those missing one day a year; changes and progress need to be made to prevent and stop these crimes from continuing in the future.

In Canada, June is National Indigenous History Month. This is a good time to start learning more about our history beyond what was written in old text books, or from outdated information of the past. Canada is rich in First Nations history, and it is vital we start listening and learning directly from those communities. How? Google is a good start, information is at our finger tips these days (I am also sharing links below). However, you might prefer to get out of the house and visit galleries or sacred sites in your area. I have been fortunate to explore the Whetung Gallery, Petroglyphs Provincial Park, and am looking forward to visiting the Alderville Oak Sivana when it opens. When possible, attend talks or lectures given by First Nations Peoples, or read their books, learn their stories and perspectives. Have compassion.

Last year, in celebration of many talented First Nations artists, I shared a variety of profiles on Instagram (Christi Belcourt, Kent Monkman, Freddy Taylor, Maxine Noel, Rick Beaver, Jennifer Trefiak, Jessie Bachanan, Michael Robinson, David Beaucage Johnson, Annie Pootoogook, and the Whetung Gallery). As you know I am very passionate about supporting the arts.

During that month of June (2021) there was also devastating news released, that 215 unmarked graves were discovered at a previous indian residential school in British Columbia. Since then more of these schools across the country have been investigated, and the number of children’s unmarked graves continues to climb (closer to 2000 currently, and will likely be many more). Want to learn more? I recommend these articles and websites:

“Call To Action” binder – sent to parliment

This devastating news brought a wave of (temporary?) action across the country – now that these truths were being uncovered people were finally standing with First Nations demanding accountability from the government. Locally we collected letters from our community to send to parliament (Marc Miller, the Minister of Indigenous Services Canada). The binder I sent had 36 letters, most of them calling on the Government of Canada to follow through on the 94 Calls To Action in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. The binder was sent, and received, but had no direct response from the honourable Marc Miller, or anyone from parliament.

As we approach June 2022, I feel like June 2021 was a life time ago. Like all of this happened so long ago, and still no changes seem to be made. Very little progress, no more news updates on the investigations, and the anger and motivation of people has subsided as we all returned to the groove of our daily lives…

For me, this is ongoing learning. It’s not about one day, or one month, or the next event. But I do appreciate these things, as a reminder to honour those before us, and to do what I can to help make a better future for everyone. Life long learning, listening, sharing, and growing. Remember, we are all treaty people.

Attention Northumberland Artists!

The Northumberland Arts Gallery and Shop is looking to book 2-3 artists from August 15 to the end of November. Interested? Contact Alexandra by emailing olenka.kucharczyk@gmail.com or phone call to 416-819-4188.

This quaint gallery and shop is located down town Port Hope, at 8 Queen Street. Shop hours are Thursday to Saturday 11-5, Sunday 1-4. They showcase innovative works by numerous Northumberland County artists. Two and three dimensional art, textiles, jewellery, wood, pottery, candles and more! Volunteer run, this is a not for profit organization. Artwork is on consignment.

You can follow them on Facebook: Northumberland Arts Gallery and Shop page or explore their website: Northumberland Arts Gallery and Shop.

What’s New In The Studio?

It has been three months since I published a blog. Yikes. I thought it might be time to show my face again:

Hi There!! I’m alive!

I’ve been busy, but have lots of art brewing in the background of my life.

I’ve started re-creating my children’s book. I have been slowly layering my large canvas from the “call me home” collection (it should be done soon!)… and I am getting ready to apply for a juried show coming up in May. Wish me luck!

I want to remind everyone I have a newsletter you can register for “Artist Notes” that will be going out soon, and it will have information on an upcoming “give away.” Otherwise, make sure you are following me on Instagram. Stay in touch, I always love and appreciate feedback on my work!

2021 The Creative Year

In January 2021 I decided to give myself a creative challenge, as a way to get myself “unstuck.” I found myself so serious about trying to write and paint, that I was paralyzed in some sort of abstract-fear of not succeeding at, or even finishing, anything. I found myself pulled in so many directions, it was impossible to focus on, or accomplish, even one thing.

After doing a session with Jessica Outram of Creativity Coaching, I came to understand that all of these projects are part of my “life work”… separate from money, or publishing, or selling, or even deadlines. I had put pressure on myself with it being about business, or appealing to others. That session transformed my focus from “chaos” and stress/pressure to “playfulness” and fun/experimentation.

I decided to name 2021 my year of creativity. I started an Instagram account @2021_The_Creative_Year to document the journey. The project started with monthly challenges, so in January I did photo-poetry every day; in February I did a sketch every day; in March I did a mini-painting every day; in April the project started to shift because I decided to work on an embroidered jean-jacket that took too much time.

I was disappointed I was unable to finish the jacket by the end of the month; but I do continue to work on it when I can. In May I shifted the “creativity” to the kitchen and my health (I’ve lost 25 pounds since then)… and in the summer I started traveling up North to the French River area, that inspired a new art project. The daily challenges fell through the cracks at that point BUT their purpose, to get me out of my creative rut, had been accomplished. My creativity was ON FIRE.

The biggest lesson I learned from the past year is the value of “play.” I struggle with the idea of “waste”… my time and materials. So I had to get over that limitation, to truly dive into making mistakes and having no judgement about making something really terrible. I mixed some really yucky colours, I drew some really uninspiring sketches, I painted some really bad experiments, and wrote some very boring poems. BUT those little “wastes” fade in comparison of the whole project… because they filled the spaces that kept the momentum going for all the incredible things I have been able to create this year. In Total 2021 included:

  • 7 journals
  • 3 songs (no lyrics, just guitar chords)
  • 51 poems
  • 28 sketches
  • 30 mini-paintings
  • 5-day paint challenge with artist Mary Gilkerson
  • 11 oil sketches
  • “Winter on Lake Ontario” a new collection of 5 acrylic paintings
  • “Call me Home” collection of 7 new oil paintings (with more in progress)
  • Completed 2 other oil paintings (one which I started years ago)
  • I read “Learning by Heart” by Corita Kent and Jan Steward
  • Was as a guest artist on the Hummingbird Podcast.
  • In September I participated in the 2021 Northumberland Studio Tour with Steve Levinson
  • In November I co-hosted a pop-up art and book sale/show with Jessica Outram.
  • I made 6 road trips up north, and continue to paint from the photographs I collected between June and November this year.

I don’t have enough space to add images of all the projects I have done over the past year; but if you’re interested then check out @Burke_Untitled on Instagram or the photos on my Facebook Page: Jennifer Anne Burke and of course the main website!

2022 is going to look very different, as I will be starting a new job that will allow less time to dive in deeply to any big projects; but I feel this year has given me all the skills I need to continue my creative journey, as life work. Wishing you all a new year full of creativity!

RECAP ON FEATURED ARTISTS!

During 2021 I used my blog to feature twelve wonderful artists I know. Northumberland County is a place brimming with creativity and passionate folks who make beautiful things to share with you.

This year we shared photographers, writers, needle-point art, multi-media creations, pottery, and painters. In case you missed any of these special features, here is a recap:

January: Gareth Vieira (mulit-media artist)

February: Sweet Coffee Club (multi-media arts community)

March: Shannon Wood (painter)

April: Brandon W. Hahn (poet, writer, mental-health advocate)

May: Elayne Linn (potter)

June: Lindsay Woodward (poet, writer, needle-pointer)

July: Jennifer Trefiak (Canadian Landscape Painter)

August: Lee Higginson (multi-media artist)

September: Jeannette Breward (photographer)

October: Barbra Bromley (painter)

November: Vera Litinsky (multi-media projects and painter)

December: Gina Newcomb (landscape painter)

Thank you to everyone who contributed this year. If you are an artist who would like to be featured in 2022 drop me a message: jab_artist@outlook.com.

Happy new year my friends and fellow artists!

In admiration,

Jennifer Anne Burke.