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Abinoojiiyens Ogichidaa – Baby Warrior (2016, 61cm x 92cm, digital print, edition 1 of 10) is included in the 15th Annual Invitational C Magazine Contemporary Art Auction at the Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto on April 23, 2019. (more info)

Artist Statement 

Abinoojiiyens Ogichidaa – Baby Warrior is a digital print from a sculptural work originally created in 1997 as a component of a larger installation work entitled Just/Us. The installation work consisted of 14 small framed digital prints of baby warrior’s face that sequentially abstracted into a landscape that were mounted on the wall in a continuous horizontal line. Directly below the framed images a scale of justice was installed that had on one side a copy of the federal government of Canada’s lndian Act legislation. On the opposite side the Baby Warrior sculptural work was installed consisting of a plastic doll covered with clay and over-painted with Anishinaabe Great Lakes’ floral motifs with fragments of the clay encasement missing. In 1997, the work addressed the impact of Canada’s legislative and policies of assimilation on Anishinaabe culture. From birth, children were impacted by a loss of culture, spirituality and language as represented through the missing fragments revealing a Caucasian exposed flesh area. This work was exhibited in Ace’s first exhibition entitled Modern Indians Standing Around at the Post at Gallery 101 in Ottawa, Ontario.

In 2014, Ace was invited to participate in the group exhibition Material Witness: Art, Activism, and Fiber, once again at Gallery 101 in Ottawa. He chose to rework this sculpture that was included in Just/Us and renamed the work  “Abinoojiiyens Ogichidaa” that loosely translates in Anishinaabemowin to “Baby Warrior”.  Ace also added a doll support stand to suspend the work over a wooden base that he painted with Anishinaabe Great Lakes floral motifs against a black ground (representing black velvet fabric to strengthen the beaded floral work). For this particular reiteration of the work, he choose to also include a copy of the federal government Indian Act legislation, but this time the Indian Act was underneath the Baby Warrior. Since the work was originally created in 1997, there has been great change in cultural reparation, so the context of the work also has changed. The missing fragments are no longer simply representing cultural erosion but instead can also be read as areas that are to be filled in with reclaimed cultural attributes.

The sculptural work was also included in the exhibition Anishinaabeg: Art and Power at the Royal Ontario Museum in 2017. This time the work was exhibited without the Indian Act, and can be read either way.