ACE’S GREAT LAKES’ BLANKETS AND BANDOLIERS TO BE FEATURED IN UMMA EXHIBITION “WATERSHED” IN 2020

 COVID-19 – Ace exhibition postponed until October 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In June 2020, the University of Michigan Museum of Art (Ann Arbor, Michigan) will launch a group exhibition entitled Watershed to be installed in the A. Alfred Taubman Gallery. This exhibition will bring together artists from Canada and the United States whose works focus on the Great Lakes and adjoining watersheds. The exhibition curators Jennifer Friess and Erika Larson are including Ace’s major work Nayaano-nibiimaang Gichigamiin: The Five Great Lakes (2016). This large-scale blanket installation utilizes Hudson Bay blankets and reclaimed and salvaged electronic circuitry (capacitors and resistors) to replicate the traditional floral and geometric motifs. The Anishinaabeg (Ojibwe, Odawa and Potawatomi) homelands are the islands and territories in and surrounding the five Great Lakes. Through a referencing of traditional cultural art practices, such as beadwork, juxtaposed against contemporary ephemera, disparate materials and found or sourced objects, Ace creates a culture-specific narrative through a confluence between the historical and contemporary.

Nayaano-nibiimaang Gichigamiin: The Five Great Lakes (2016) presents an honouring blanket for each of the Great Lakes. By using the Hudson Bay blankets, Ace points to the long narrative of colonization, disease and trade histories that the blankets have with the peoples of the Great Lakes. The blankets also carry with them culture-specific signs and semiotics as they became assimilated into Anishinaabeg material culture. The trade blankets were at one time revered and were offered as highly valued gifts and worn as regalia on important occasions, even fashioned into garments such as coats. When these blankets were decorated with a beaded blanket strip, for instance, they took on an even greater cultural and spiritual significance.

Also included in the exhibition are a suite featuring brand new bandolier bags that pay tribute and homage to each of the Great Lakes. Each bandolier has an embedded tablet that screen a video short shot by Ace on location that is site-specific to each Great Lake.

Images: Scott Lee. Courtesy of Idea Exchange (Cambridge, Ontario). Installation shots from the exhibition Body of Waters. Additional images: Barry Ace (as noted).