When Jackie Traverse was 13 years old, she would sneak out of school to watch an artist paint a Jackson Beardy mural on Selkirk Avenue. Now, 37 years later, she’ll be creating the artwork for a prominent corner of Red River College’s new Innovation Centre, a 100,000-sq.-ft. building in Winnipeg’s Exchange District.
“As a kid I remember thinking, ‘Just wow.’ It was such a big deal for me to see a building with Native artwork being put on it. It was the first time I had seen something like this, on this scale, that felt like it was for me,” she says. “So for me to be doing the same thing now, it makes me proud.”
Traverse is a multi-disciplined Anishinaabe artist who works predominantly with paint on canvas. She was born in Winnipeg and knew she wanted to be an artist from the time she was four years old. A graduate of the University of Manitoba’s Fine Arts program, Traverse is known across Canada for her powerful art, which speaks to the realities of being an Indigenous person.
The College collaborated with the Winnipeg Arts Council in the search for an artist for the project, which will be featured both inside and outside the building’s fourth-floor ceiling, spanning approximately 1,000 sq.-ft. The large overhanging parapet, a gesture to the historic warehouse architecture, was a perfect canvas for a piece of public art to be seen from blocks away, and to act as a lantern atop the new building.
Out of the five artists who were shortlisted to present, Traverse’s concept and story won over the panel.
“The concept she presented was very powerful and resonated with us,” says Patrick Kuzyk, chair of RRC’s selection committee. “One of the goals of the Innovation Centre is to create a hub where students, businesses, entrepreneurs and community members can come together and collaborate on ideas. Her concept depicts a traditional gathering place and we were inspired by the connection.” Read More →