NEW WORK – SPIRIT DRESS AND SPIRIT BLANKET FOR MY NOOKMIS (MARY ACE)

Spirit Dress and Spirit Blanket for My Nookmis (Mary Ace) (2019) is a new work by Barry Ace utilizing his signature style and innovative use of bronze mesh screen and electronic components. He started using bronze mesh screen back in 2000 in his mixed media regalia work Parallel Tasking that is now on permanent exhibition at the North American Native Museum (NONAM) in Zurich, Switzerland. This bronze screen acts as a perfect ground to affix the electronic components, and it also has a translucent moire refractive property similar to glass cut beads. He continues to use this malleable bronze screen in his contemporary bandolier work as in Digital Bandolier (2011), Gashkibidaagan for Jean Baptiste Ense (Great-Great-Grandfather) (2018), in his regalia Mino bimaadiziwin (2017), and in his mesh screen molded shoe forms as in Semblance (2017).

Spirit Dress and Spirit Blanket for My Nookmis (Mary Ace) (2019) is an installation work that is a reparative work for his grandmother who attended the Wiikwemkoong Indian Residential School in Wiikwemkoong, Ontario in the early 1900s. The school was destroyed by fire in 1911. The work consists of a found antique metal bed headboard and footboard similar to those that the children slept in at residential school. He made his grandmother a spirit regalia dress out of his signature and innovative bronze mesh screen material to capture the translucent ghost-like quality and refractive properties referencing glass cut beads. Copper jingle cones and white heart trade beads are affixed to the belt referencing the healing attributes of the jingle in Anishinaabe spirituality. The spirit dress is mounted over a plexi-glass and metal clothes body form and is mounted directly above the metal bed frame. It is adorned with his signature electronic component floral and morning star motifs. He stripped back the warp from the weft weave to create a fringe on both the dress and blanket. Folded over the wrung of bed frame is a translucent blanket also made from bronze mesh screen. The blanket also incorporates electronic component floral and morning star motifs and cascades to the ground in a floating translucent form.

The residential school attempted to strip the culture and language out of the children who attended, so he wanted to give this gift of regalia to his grandmother who as a young girl never had the opportunity to enter the dance circle like he did.  He also wanted to give her a spirit blanket to keep her protected and warm on her journey in the spirit world.