Jason Baerg, an artist who draws paints and uses new media opened the Pitos Waskochepayis (Alternate Electricity) festival at the Mann Art Gallery with an artist talk about his work on Thursday night.
© Herald photo by KJ Dakin
Jason Baerg, an artist in drawing, painting and new media opened the Pitos Waskochepayis (Alternate Electricity) festival at the Mann Art Gallery with a talk about his work on Thursday night. The festival was a collaboration of artists interpreting and celebrating the theme of two spirited and queer culture, especially in relation to indigenous people. The Indigenous People Artist Collective (IPAC) presented Pitos Waskochepayis. Baerg, originally from Prince Albert, now lives in Toronto and travels internationally as an artist. He returned home to begin touring with his newest installation, called Running 2from Home, which pulls largely from the tension generated by people’s affection for and fear of their roots, their home
The festival was a collaboration of artists interpreting and celebrating the theme of two spirited and queer culture, especially in relation to indigenous people. The Indigenous People Artist Collective (IPAC) presented Pitos Waskochepayis.
Baerg is a full-time artist travelling about eight months a year. He has done a number of residencies and shows around the world: Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Canada.
While Baerg is gay and an artist who presented his work during the festival, he says that his work is focused on broader, universal human themes or experiences.
“I am an artist first,” Baerg says. “I never wanna be pigeonholed as a black or as a lesbian artist.”
Running 2from Home is the title of his gallery show and is actually a combination of two separate bodies of work: Relations and Nomadic Bounce.
“It’s inspired by journey and our relationships,” Baerg says.
Relations is a series of 13 circular pieces that are inspired by the earth, sun and humanity and their relation to one another. It is also symbolic as the year is 2012, which according to some is the end of the world.
“Many indigenous communities, including the Aztecs and the Mayans, used the 13 moon calendar to create their calculations to chart, for example, the Mayan or the Aztec, 25,000 years.”
Nomadic Bounce is an abstract recreation of Baerg’s own home, from the West End to the East.
“I grew up here,” Baerg says.
“The Nomadic Bounce series is dealing with that tension between running to and from people and place.”
It’s that notion of running to and from everything we love and hate. Jason Baerg
”When you think about relationships, there’s always a tension,” he says.
“What is it that brings us or returns us back to a person whom we love and care about, even after conflict. I feel the same way about place. People have very specific sentiment that is attached to environment.”
“People feel attached to cities, or a lake or a river or their homeland, whatever that means. So it’s that notion of running to and from everything we love and hate.”
“Why am I an artist today? I think, like growing up on the West End on a gravel road two blocks away from the Pen (penitentiary), you know, really did inform my experiences. And television really opened me up to a world beyond.”
“You’re sitting on 14th Street, you’re 11 years old and all of a sudden you’re watching arts and entertainment and you’re being introduced to what’s happening in Tokyo, or what’s happening in Paris, or what’s happening in New York City, What’s happening in L.A. What’s happening in Toronto.”
Running 2from Home begins in Prince Albert and will travel across the country to Edmonton, Medicine Hat, Sarnia, Winnipeg and more.
Pitos Waskochepayis continued with a performance by artist Adrian Stimson and an hour-long collection of video works which addressed the realties of being queer and Aboriginal.