Tania Willard, Affirmations for Wildflowers: An Ethnobotany of Desire. Installation documentation, Audain Gallery, 2020. Photos: Rachel Topham Photography.
Tania Willard: Affirmations for Wildflowers: An Ethnobotany of Desire
September 14 – November 13, 2020
Audain Gallery, Hastings Street Windows
Tania Willard’s artistic practice engages cultural knowledges to cultivate works that range from land-based Indigenous contemporary art to survival strategies for contemporary socio-political upheavals. Affirmations for Wildflowers: An Ethnobotany of Desire is a street-facing window exhibition that uses light projection, reflection, representations of flora, and personal and political affirmations to evoke relations of sustenance in uncertain but flourishing times.
In this series of works, the idea of affirming and validating transformational worth, justice and futurity are conceptually plaited together with fragmented ethnobotanical knowledge and colour therapy qualities. Braiding between the specificity of the gallery’s downtown eastside location and the artist's home territory of Secwepemcúl̓ecw, Affirmations for Wildflowers: An Ethnobotany of Desire uses light and reflection to project both inward and outward emotional resonances. The works reflect a desire for transformational change and echo different qualities of wildflowers, current socio-political climates, longstanding Indigenous rights movements, and the power of seasonal changes on the land.
This year, 2020, the wildflowers that bloom in late spring and early summer were prolific in Secwepemcúl̓ecw, while simultaneously a global pandemic, and both Black Lives Matter and Indigenous protests, were destabilizing entrenched orders. While these political transformations continue, Willard’s project invests in the blooming of resistance within an equilibrium of health and relationality to lands. These works seek to reflect the political complexity of this time while also projecting an affirmation of seasonal cycles of blooming wildflowers as a mirror for a transforming world.
Tania Willard, Secwépemc Nation and settler heritage, works with shifting ideas around what is considered contemporary and traditional, often invoking bodies of knowledge and skills that are conceptually linked to her interest in the intersections between Secwepémc knowledges and other cultures. As an artist, Willard’s work has been shown widely across Canada, including solo exhibitions with Kamloops Art Gallery (2009) and Burnaby Art Gallery (2017). Willard's ongoing collaborative project, BUSH gallery, is a conceptual land-based gallery grounded in Indigenous knowledges. Willard is an Assistant Professor at UBC Okanagan in Syilx territories, and her current research intersects with land-based art practices.
Curated by cheyanne turions
This described tour of Affirmations for Wildflowers: An Ethnobotany of Desire is offered as a point of access for people who are blind, people who live with vision loss or sighted folks who are interested in how meaning is made from looking.
This tour is designed and delivered by Stephanie Bokenfohr, an independent producer focused on performance and access. Opening music and sound editing by Gabi Dao.
The tour is delivered in three parts: an introduction to the work, a description of the work as encountered in the day (begins at 05:56) and a description of the work as encountered at night (begins at 14:12).