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Ancestors Rising
sculpture, Bronze, First Nations, woman artist, ancestors, bison horns, symbol, land, respect, reservation, regalia, status,Plains First Nations, compass directions, balance, First Nations Philosophy,circle of life,power, energy, healing, ancestors,
description

The work Ancestors Rising was  commissionedA contract between an artist and an individual. The artist agrees to create an image or design for the individual for a predetermined price.  by the MacKenzie Art Gallery in Regina, Saskatchewan and marks the Saskatchewan centennial as well as a  First NationsFirst Nations is a contemporary term referring to the Indian peoples of Canada, both status and non-status (definition from Indian and Northern Affairs Canada). To find out more about Canada’s First Nations, go to: Assembly of First Nations: http://www.afn.ca/ Village of First Nations: http://www.firstnations.com/ Canada’s First Nations: http://www.ucalgary.ca/applied_history/tutor/firstnations/ Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Nations   presence in Regina’s sculptural landscape. On National Aboriginal Day, June 21, 2006, this  sculptureA three-dimensional work of art, or the art of making it. Such works may be carved, modeled, constructed, or cast. Sculptures can also be described as assemblage, in the round, and relief, and made in a huge variety of media. A sculptor is one who creates sculptures. (artlex.com)  was unveiled in front of the MacKenzie Art Gallery in Wascana Park.

start quote...quite simply as an Aboriginal artist, I am one small contributing link to the evolving aboriginal art history over the course of many millennia.end quote
-- Mary Longman (Reflections of Being in Place and Time)

Ancestors Rising was inspired by the First Nations cultural history and the close relationship  First NationsFirst Nations is a contemporary term referring to the Indian peoples of Canada, both status and non-status (definition from Indian and Northern Affairs Canada). To find out more about Canada’s First Nations, go to: Assembly of First Nations: http://www.afn.ca/ Village of First Nations: http://www.firstnations.com/ Canada’s First Nations: http://www.ucalgary.ca/applied_history/tutor/firstnations/ Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Nations   people had with the bison. Before settlement of the west, the First Nations people lived on the Saskatchewan prairies for anywhere from 27,000 to 11,200 years. They relied heavily on the bison for their survival as the bison provided food, blankets, shelter and materials used in many of their ceremonies. Piles of bison bones or shrines were placed in an area that is now known as Wascana Park (Wascana comes from the  CreeThe largest group of First Nations in Canada, and part of the Algonquian language family. See the Canadian Encyclopedia for more information: http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0002005  word Oscana which means ‘pile of bones‘) in the hope the bison would return to the bones of their dead ancestors and continue to provide for the needs of the First Nations people. When the settlers came they also made piles of bison bones, but theirs were for export and the manufacturing of fertilizer and chinaware. This caused the near extermination of the bison and threatened the survival of the First Nations people.

Longman describes the ideas explored in her work when she writes,

The mainstream  contentThe subject matter of a work of art and what it suggests about that subject matter. This includes the ways in which that work of art can be plausibly interpreted.  revolves around the exploration of Western dominant society, which still entails heavy fundamentalist, patriarchal and ethnocentric views. I seek to depict the psychological and social effects these views have upon people of First Nations, minority groups and the general public.  My Aboriginal ancestry allows me to closely and critically analyze Eurocentric views within my everyday life experiences and to more clearly understand other Aboriginal voices of the past and present. The ultimate goal is to disseminate an awareness of these conditioning effects and hopefully bring about a greatly needed change of thought.  (Longman, 1992)

Longman gives further insight into her art and ideas when she states,

The  subjectA topic or idea represented in an art work.  matter in my work is always evolving as I evolve, though one common strand exists through it all --that which stems from a First Nations' perspective. In the past I have created works revolving around current issues in politics and academia. Over the last few years, my focus has come full circle back to myself and my experiences and interactions within my surroundings. The process of returning to the intimately familiar led to a deep exploration of being, place, and time. Connecting the conscious with the unconscious, the physical with the "Manitou", and the past with the present. This holistic exploration provided the link to my Aboriginal identity which was always present instinctually, yet suppressed by external influences, and is now the direction of my new work. (Longman, undated)
additional resources Mary Longman
Duration: 1:01 min
Size: 4708kb
Things to Think About
  • Stones have various uses in Aboriginal culture. Can you name a few of these uses, both practical and spiritual?
  • Before the settlers arrived on the plains, the Aboriginal peoples collected the buffalo bones in piles in the Wascana Creek area near Regina, Saskatchewan. The buffalo were important to their survival and because of this they honoured the buffalo.  The settlers began arriving in the early 1860’s and they started accumulating piles of bones, for very different purposes.  They would gather the bones from their buffalo hunting and export them for use in the manufacture of marketable goods. Through over-hunting the buffalo were completely eliminated from their prairie environment.  What do you think the word "Wascana" means in Cree? What do you think happened to the people who relied on the buffalo for survival?  Go to Place Names in Saskatchewan to find out what Wascana means in Cree.
  • Discuss stories that contain references to the importance of ancestors in First Nations’ cultures.
  • Many people today engage in genealogical research projects to gather information about their ancestors.  What factors might prompt people to undertake such a search for ancestral information?
Studio Activity

Dream Catchers

  • Make your own dream catcher and decorate it in your own style. 

Balance

Mary Longman’s artwork, Ancestors Rising suggests the need for balance in all areas of life. Challenge yourself to work with  asymmetricalInformal balance or composition where unlike objects have equal visual weight.  and  symmetricalFormal balance where two sides of a design are identical.  balance in an art project.

Working with stones

  • Find stones in your community.
  • Arrange the unearthed stones into their geological categories based on their appearance and density.
  • Pick your favourite stone and try to imagine an animal or creature within the stone.
References

Clarke, Janet.  Blood and Stones: Mary Longman. Exhibition catalogue.Thunder Bay Art Gallery, Thunder Bay, Ontario, 2002.

Longman, Mary.  ‘Autobiographical statement.’  Native Online.  undated.  Retrieved from the Internet on March 27, 2009 from:   http://www.nativeonline.com/mary.htm

Longman, Mary.  Contemporary Artists in Nova Scotia.  Exhibition catalogue., Art Gallery of Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, July/August 1992.

Robertson, Carmen.  ‘Mary Longman.’  Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan.  Retrieved from the Internet on August 9. 2008 from:  http://www.nativeonline.com/mary.htm

Canadian Heritage University of Regina Mackenzie Art Gallery Mendel Art Gallery Sask Learning