WWG: Art Auction ‘ups the ante’

Art auction ‘ups the ante’

By Maurice Switzer

It wasn’t until Christmas of his first year at Horden Hall Residential School in Moose Factory that Jack Smallboy remembers being called by his first name.

“They just called us all by numbers — I was Number 14,”  says Smallboy, whose artwork is featured in this week’s Indigenous Art Show and Silent Auction at the White Water Gallery in downtown North Bay. “The staff must have felt sorry for us not being able to go home at Christmas. They let us pick presents for ourselves out of a Sears catalogue and on Christmas morning we each had a gift in a pillowcase with our first name written on it.”

An accomplished painter and carver, Smallboy says focussing on his artwork has helped his lifelong process of healing from experiences he and thousands of others endured at residential schools. Now living in North Bay– where he went to high school — Smallboy is one of over 80,000 Indian residential school survivors in Canada.

Visitors to the White Water Gallery at 122 Main St. East have until a closing reception this Friday, Nov. 6 to view over two dozen pieces of Indigenous artworks — which include original acrylic and oil paintings, photographs, a large textile feather, and a portrait of Tecumseh engraved on metal — and submit bids on their favourites.

One of Smallboy’s framed works is a large pencil drawing of an Anishinaabe warrior walking through a forest. A closer look reveals dozens of tiny faces peering out from the trees.

“Our people have always believed there are ‘little people’ in the woods”, says Smallboy. “They also said there were giants.”

Serena Kataoka, the gallery’s executive director, is calling the exhibit “Up the ante.”

“We hope that by showcasing indigenous art of this region the show will “up the ante” in renogotiating our ways of living together here on Nipissing territory.”

Proceeds from artworks donated for the silent auction will go to the White Water Gallery’s renovation fund.

For more information please visit White Water Gallery website.

Artist Jack Smallboy

Artist Jack Smallboy


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