Connie Watts, "Embrace," acrylic on canvas, 4' X 4'.
Connie Watts: Reconciling Self
Opening Reception: June 13, 5:00-7:00pm
900 Fifth Street, Nanaimo, BC, Building 330
Reconciling Self is a feature exhibition of new artworks by Connie Watts, a mixed media artist and designer of Nuu-Chah-Nulth, Kwakwaka’wakwa, and Gitxsan ancestry, based in Port Alberni. Her studio practice is characterized by the use of contemporary media and techniques that recast and re-imagine Northwest Coast traditions, and express the hybrid status of all cultures in the 21st century.
The exhibition Reconciling Self addresses issues of cultural-mixing and exchange, through the lens of a First Nations artist working with traditional forms in non-traditional media. In our era of time-space compression, distinctions in geography and history have broken down with advances in technologies of movement and communication, resulting in traditional and regional cultures becoming increasingly blended. For contemporary artists working with traditional cultural forms, this hybridity is inscribed across their studio strategies and practices, through which cultural identity is both presented and represented. In Watts’ art, this takes form as (in her words) “a conversation between techniques.” The artworks, and related talks and presentations, of Reconciling Self express the sometimes chaotic process of identity making, as experienced and conceived by a rising, major figure in First Nations Art. In the painting “Embrace” [Image #1], Watts combines traditional Northwest Coast ovoid forms with landscapes derived from photographs and postcards, in an act of cultural mixing that “expresses that chaos in a poignant, grand, and majestic work of art.” Connie Watts has exhibited across North America, including a solo exhibition in Winnipeg (“Re-Generation” at the Urban Shaman Gallery) and as part of “Changing Hands: Art Without Reservation”, an exhibition that toured the United States. Watts emerging leadership role on the West Coast art scene was confirmed through her work as project manager (and contributing artist) for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games Aboriginal Art Program.