indigenous art

Rebecca Belmore – Hacer Memoria

Renowned Anishinaabe artist Rebecca Belmore’s Hacer Memoria  is an outdoor sculpture along the façade of North Vancouver’s Polygon Gallery. It honours victims of residential schools with nine oversized blue and orange shirts sewn from tarpaulins. Each is emblazoned with a single letter. Together the letters spell “hereafter.”

Belmore with pieces of the sculpture

The title of the work is taken from the Pope’s penitential speech in which he recognized the importance of remembering the devastating impacts of the residential school system, the gallery says. Belmore co-opts his phrase “hacer memoria,” or “try to remember,” by highlighting the challenges of not forgetting. In colours that carry significance – blue for the uniforms that students wore and orange to mark the resilience of survivors – the provocative artwork offers an opportunity to acknowledge Indigenous people.

Installation view of Rebecca Belmore’s Severance (2022), mesh tarpaulin, thread & hair. Photo: Akeem Nermo

Severance, another installation by Belmore, is in the Polygon Gallery’s stairwell. Made of plastic mesh tarpaulin, the sculpture is suggestive of black hair in a reminder of the horrific history of residential schools, where Indigenous children’s hair was regularly shorn. 

See more at the Polygon Gallery here.

Canadian Art Junkie has carried numerous posts on Rebecca Belmore, one of Canada’s most celebrated artists:

Rebecca Belmore’s website, here.

If you are not familiar with the horrific record of Canada’s residential schools, the country’s National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation has an overview to help familiarize you with the issues here.

The easiest take-away from that site is:

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) concluded that residential schools were “a systematic, government- sponsored attempt to destroy Aboriginal cultures and languages and to assimilate Aboriginal peoples so that they no longer existed as distinct peoples.” The TRC characterized this intent as “cultural genocide.”

5 replies »

  1. I honestly don’t know how we aren’t all up in their faces about the mess hey are making of EVERYTHING. Clean water, health care, good food, clean air, should be a given in every society, or place where people live. So much greed and power grabbing, they have no time for the people. Shameful and deadly. No matter what we do, or say, makes no difference. They no longer have to listen to the people. The government works for itself.

    Liked by 1 person

    • And the worst part is, it’s still essentially un-remedied. (Not to mention the abject criminality of governments that can’t even get clean water into Indigenous communities)


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