Neebing exhibit showcases art with ‘meaning and soul’

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BY IAN SHANTZ | AUGUST 2022

Indigenous artist Thomas Sinclair typically works at a brisk pace.

“I’m one of those artists who can walk up to a blank canvas and just start without pencil lines or anything else. I can just go,” said Sinclair, who practices the woodland style, blending traditional legends and myths with contemporary mediums.  

Sinclair modified his artistic rhythm recently by dedicating several weeks to a project created specifically for the Neebing Indigenous Art Fair, happening Aug. 6-21 at Bingemans in Kitchener.

The Ojibway artist from Couchiching First Nation hopes his prospector tent contributes to what’s expected to be a unique cross-section of work showcasing the various backgrounds and talents of the six participating Indigenous artists.

“I come from a long line of trappers. My grandfathers, my great grandfather, and all the way back were trappers,” Sinclair said. “They hung out and they lived in prospector tents. So I made one of those.”

Sinclair will also display a large sculpture at the first-time exhibit. He originally created the sculpture — a 15-feet-high-by-20-feet-wide thunderbird — for the City of Sault Ste. Marie.

The event, which includes Kitchener-based Indigenous artists Alanah Jewell Morningstar and Luke Swinson, is meant to bring recognition and representation to the Indigenous community through art.

“Hearing the stories is incredibly and deeply touching,” Bingemans president Mark Bingeman said. “In my estimation, it just puts more meaning and soul in these pieces. When you really hear that coming from deep inside them and what they’re putting on the canvases, it’s just incredible.”

The art will be available to the public to purchase, but for Sinclair this show is about something else entirely.

“It’s about giving an opportunity for people to experience the good life — the way that native people live the good life and the way we live in honour and respect to the water and our culture,” he said.

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LAND RECOGNITION

Bingemans is situated on the lands within the Haldimand Treaty of 1784, a formally ratified agreement acknowledging six miles on either side of the Grand River as treaty territory belonging to the Six Nations of the Grand River. Bingemans serves a region that is located within the traditional territories of the Neutral, Anishinaabe, and Haudenosaunee peoples.

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Ian Shantz is an award-winning, seasoned writer and editor based in Waterloo Region. Throughout his career in journalism spanning nearly 20 years, Ian has specialized in various storytelling, including sports, travel and breaking news reporting. He works at The Toronto Sun. Raised in the townships of Wellesley and Woolwich, Ian is forever in pursuit of a quality cup of coffee, a  top-secret swimming hole, and a favourite new band.

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