A Contemporary Study of the Resilience and Adaptation in Mi’kmaq Art

Siawa’sik is an exhibition curated by the students of the Indigenous Exhibition Methodologies class at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD). As a part of the class, we were tasked with researching Indigenous material culture in the collection of the Nova Scotia Museum. This exhibition represents a culmination of this research. Siawa’sik seeks to challenge the pervasive historical narrative of ‘The Vanishing Indian’ and instead highlights the resilience of Mi’kmaq communities and cultures which still thrive today. A focus throughout our research has been the changes in arts and crafts processes, often as a result of contact and collaboration with colonial cultures.

Many of the objects on display are examples of souvenir art, in which materials and decorations have been skillfully adapted to meet the demands of the new European market. Rather than a loss of “authenticity”, these changes represent survival, a continuation of Mi’kmaq culture despite colonial pressures to assimilate.

Curated by Sarah Brooks, Erin Riehl, Undine Foulds, Katelyn Bungay, Sydney Wreaks, Darcie Bernhardt, Luke Mohan, Robin Jarvis, Anna Wildish.