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invisible threads

May 20 – September 6, 2019

“Beading creates a space within time for individual and communal contemplation; it is continuity performed as it ties one artist to another, and past to present. Its material language and techniques rooted in culturally informed traditions and cultural adaptation. It is a place of knowledge transfer and a form of resistance. This exhibition looks at the contemporary and transformative context of beading, through aesthetic innovations and tactile beauty of this skill-based practice. Connecting to a tradition of making that has been exercised over thousands of years, artists manipulate and transpose the original pixel in ways that are both customary and conceptual, inviting viewers to consider the political, creative, and technical dimensions of beadwork.”

Michelle LaVallee, Director of the Indigenous Art Centre


Beaded Abstraction (2014) is a minimalist rendering of an Anishinaabe bandolier bag or friendship bag of the Great Lakes region. This reductionist perspective of a material culture object and Ace’s concern to transfer his sculptural three-dimensional textile work into an uncomplicated figure to ground relationship on paper is an early example. It is a work on paper that Ace would revisit a year later in Coalesce (2015).

In Beaded Abstraction, a mixed media work on paper, Ace reduces the bandolier bag down to its pure form: the beaded front-panel and shoulder strap (which is animated by the upward swipe of acrylic sky blue and yellow paint). The bandolier bag’s front-panel is a digitally manipulated image-transfer of actual beadwork set against a black velvet ground. Some sections of the photo-transfer have been subtly overlaid with tiny hand-stitched glass beads and underscored with thin colour graduated beaded line.  The floral motif has been intentionally mirrored and morphed into a transforming Anishinaabe floral pattern that would not normally exist – a metaphor for continual culture change and the confluence between the historical and contemporary.

Beaded Abstraction was also exhibited in the 2017 exhibition Raise a flag: works from the Aboriginal Art Collection (2000-2015) curated by Ryan Rice for the OnSite Gallery, Ontario College of Art and Design (Toronto).

For a complete early history of the Indigenous Art Centre Program (CIRNAC) read Presence and Absence: Indian Art in the 1990s by Ryan Rice.