Artwork Celebrating Algonquin Anishnabeg Culture and Tradition Unveiled at NAC Ottawa

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A new art installation was unveiled at the National Arts Center on Monday. Titled “Heartbeat of Mother Earth”, the multimedia artwork features aspects of Algonquin culture and tradition, acknowledging the history and geography of this region.

“The NAC is located on the unceded and unreturned homeland of the Algonquin Anishnabeg,” NAC Director Christopher Deacon said before the unveiling. “From today, the meaning of these words will be expressed through the work of Emily Brascoupé-Hoefler.”

Two large eyes look toward the lobby of the National Arts Center. Closer inspection highlights aspects of Algonquin culture and tradition, recognizing the history and geography of this region.

“When I see the brown eyes, I see the ancestors watching,” said Algonquin Elder Claudette Commanda. “When I see the blue eyes, I see the settlers who came to this land but are learning.”

The work was commissioned by the NAC following a call for Algonquin artists from the 11 communities.

“I hope people who see it will feel a connection to the art,” said artist Emily Brascoupé-Hoefler. “That they will want to know more about the Algonquin Nation, the Indigenous people.

The Algonquin artist created the work based on the teachings of Elders and the history and stories of her own family. Birch, beadwork and earth elements are used in both pieces. His parents couldn’t be prouder.

“I think she was two years old when she said she was going to be an artist,” Brascoupé-Hoefler’s mother said.

“Coming in and seeing Emily’s artwork on the wall is beautiful,” her dad added.

Surrounded by family and friends, the artist says she hopes the permanent exhibit will open more conversations for generations to come.

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