Take Only What You Need

A detail from Honouring My Spirit Helpers. Water and land meet. Roots from a tree extend into the water. A round lily pad with pointed tips on one end floats on the water surface. Flowers, stems, and strawberries bend and overlap above the water

 

In the Take Only What You Need exhibition, Christi Belcourt calls for self-reflection on nature’s symbolic properties and the earthly connections that intertwines human existence with the natural world. Image description provided for the blind and visually impaired.

Exhibition Statement

Celebrating the beauty, fragility, and mysteries of the world around us is a central theme in the art practice of Christi Belcourt. Her large-scale paintings resemble the traditional beadwork of her Metis ancestors and speak to Indigenous history, spirituality, and cultural identity.

In Take Only What You Need, Belcourt invites viewers to self-reflect on nature’s symbolic properties and the earthly connections that intertwines human existence with the natural world. Her vibrate use of colour and meticulous attention to detail create a visual landscape of wonder. She challenges her audience to acknowledge their dependency and responsibility for the survival of Mother Earth.

- Suzanne Luke, Curator

Opening Reception

Wednesday, September 28th, 2022

Description of So Much Depends Upon Who Holds the Shovel follows

Description of "So Much Depends Upon Who Holds the Shovel"

A floral pattern with yellow, blue, red, pink, and green has been painted onto a solid black background using the end of a paintbrush to simulate Metis beadwork.

So Much Depends Upon Who Holds the Shovel, 2008

Collection of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs

 

Artist Statement

My paintings are primarily calls to action. They express my soul's love for Mother Earth; I see her and all living beings, including humans, as one. Mother Earth is alive. The rivers and lakes hold all life. We, humans, are at the bottom, not the top, as we rely on every living thing to survive, and nothing relies on us except perhaps our domesticated pets.

I call on people to connect with their deep love for those places on earth where they feel most connected. I call on people to connect and take action to protect the waters nearest to them. I call on people to stand up for the coming generations.

In 1993, what began as a simple experiment to paint flowers inspired by the beadwork patterns of Métis and First Nation women (which I had been exposed to since childhood), turned into a lifetime study of plants, our lands and waters, our environment, our spiritual connection other species and traditional medicines, and Metis beadwork and other art forms.

Some of my large paintings can contain over 200,000 dots. The raised dots simulate beadwork. Their circular shapes represent the life cycle, the parts that make up the whole, molecules and stars. They mean more than beads. The roots in my paintings are included for a number of reasons: to indicate there is more to life than what we see and the importance of roots and soil to life on earth.

- Christi Belcourt

 

Description of Honouring My Spirit Helpers follows

Description of "Honouring My Spirit Helpers"

A mirrored pattern showcasing Indigenous plants including sunflowers, strawberry plants, and lily pads. In the middle, there are roots that expand to the bottom half of the canvas, which encompasses what is below water. Otters, fish, and plants can be seen underneath the water.

Honouring My Spirit Helpers, 2010

Collection of the Seventh Generation Midwives

Artist Biography

Christi Belcourt (apihtâwikosisâniskwêw / mânitow sâkahikanihk) is a visual artist, designer, community organizer, environmentalist, social justice advocate, and avid land-based based arts and language learner. Christi is a visual artist with a deep respect for the traditions and knowledge of her people. Like generations of Indigenous artists before her, she celebrates the beauty of the natural world while exploring nature’s symbolic properties. Her paintings are found in many public and permanent collections across North America.

Christi has also organized several large national community-based projects of note, including Walking With Our Sisters, the Willisville Mountain Project, Nimkii Aazhibikong and various works done with Onaman Collective. Christi donates the proceeds from her collaborations and awards to Nimkii Aazhibikong, the year-round Indigenous language and traditional arts camp she and a small group of people started in 2017. The camp is committed to revitalizing the Anishinaabemowin language and providing opportunities for Elders and Youth to come together in a land-based learning environment.

 

Description of The Frogs Sing Loudly in Spring follows

Description of "The Frogs Sing Loudly in Spring"

A blue background showcases various Indigenous plants in multiple colours, including yellow, orange, green, blues, and pinks. There are multiple animals, including frogs and birds.

The Frogs Sing Loudly in Spring, 2021

Private Collection of the Artist

 

Description of Roots follows

Description of "Roots"

collection of lily pads in different colours including light green, dark green, light and medium brown, and yellow with roots holding them in place. The background is black.

Roots, 2021

Private Collection of the Artist

Description follows

Description of "What the Sturgeon Told Me"

A sturgeon fish dotted onto a canvas with acrylic paint using the back of a paintbrush. The sturgeon is in different hues of brown and blue. Surrounding the sturgeon are three red frogs.

What the Sturgeon Told Me, 2007

Private Collection of the Artist

Description follows

Description of "Inco Killing the Sacred"

A scene of Willisville Mountain in Sudbury, Ontario, destroyed by a mining company. There is a crane grabbing at a tower, a light in the background, A miner with mining machinery, a white-tailed deer, a black bear in the middle ground, a moose, a bald eagle, and a mother comforting her daughter in the foreground.

Inco Killing the Sacred, 2009

Private Collection of the Artist

Description follows

Description of "The Fish Are Fasting for Knowledge From the Stars"

Six fish of various sizes and colours are below a layer of ice in a body of water, swimming towards a hole in the ice that shows the sky full of stars.

The Fish are Fasting for Knowledge From the Stars, 2018

Private Collection of John Cook