Friday, 24 June 2022
This month’s theme is WILDERNESS and our guest speaker is local curator Jessie Demers. Join us on Friday morning, June 24th, for an intimate discussion of Jessie's curatorial practice and the work she has done with the Eden Grove Artist in Residence Program.
“Standing in an ancient temperate rainforest and breathing with the giants that surround you can be life changing. Ancient forests, for many, represent a place to connect with what is real and of true value – providing a rare experience of connection in a consumer culture dominated by screens.
The notion of Wilderness refers to a natural area that is uninhabited and relatively untouched by humans. This definition can be problematic, as it often erases the historical and ongoing relationships Indigenous Peoples maintain with their traditional territories. However, conservation movements are increasingly partnerships between Indigenous and settler communities, as both recognize the need to protect Earth’s life support systems for future generations.
As a curator, I am interested in the relationships between art, ecology and activism. For the past year, with the welcome of Pacheedaht community members, I have invited Indigenous and settler artists into some of the last stands of ancient forests on Southern Vancouver Island. The resulting artwork and exhibitions create space for dialogue about old growth from a range of perspectives. I see hope as a verb that is akin to artmaking. Both are tenacious creative processes of questioning, forming a vision and taking action without guaranteed results. This is how new futures are made – futures which will hopefully include standing ancient forests and thriving, just communities.” – Jessie Demers
Jessie Demers is an independent curator, arts administrator and activist living on the traditional territories of the Lək̓ʷəŋən speaking peoples. Demers has worked in the visual arts since 2006, including 5 years as a curator and education programmer at Touchstones Nelson Museum of Art and History. She has been involved in environmental activism and social justice movements since she was 16 years old. In March of 2021, Demers established the Eden Grove Artist in Residence Program, located on Pacheedaht Territory. The studio was adjacent to one of the many old growth blockades which collectively saw over 1,100 arrests. An exhibition of work by resident artists was took place at Fortune Gallery in Victoria in August 2021, and a larger exhibition including a wider range of artists will take place in summer of 2022 at Legacy Gallery in Victoria, opening June 25. Demers holds a BFA from NSCAD University and a BEd from UBC.