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Art gallery honours Indigenous knowledge and stories

Exhibition unites 12 stunning art quilts stitched on elk hide
The Art Gallery of St. Albert hosts an artist reception for Heather Shillinglaw’s My mind digs in the soil like a turtle, an exhibition of 12 Indigenous quilts on Thursday, Oct. 12.

The Art Gallery of St. Albert glides into autumn with an exhibition that salutes Indigenous knowledge and stories from past to present. 

My mind digs in the soil like a turtle unites 12 stunning art quilts stitched on elk hide. Heather Shillinglaw, a mixed media artist of Appetogasan, Cree-Dene, Chipewyan and Scottish-French heritage, captures aerial views of our region. The views include Lac Ste. Anne, Cooking Lake, and the Sturgeon River, among others. 

In her quilts, Shillinglaw depicts ancient trails in red ribbon, tracing them through woods fashioned with satin, lace, leather and yarn. Her ancestors travelled across these lands hunting, gathering herbs for medicines, telling stories and teaching future generations. The quilts connect memories from the past with changes today. 

Shillinglaw showcases the beauty of the natural world through tufting, beading and embroidery, while Métis Elder Marilyn Dumont top stitches poems across the surface of each quilt. 

“Walking these landscapes with my mother, Shirley Norris-Shillinglaw, from the LeGoff Indian Reserve, she recounted teachings and knowledge passed down to her,” said Shillinglaw.

“Knowledge of plants and animals, the rhythms and cycles of the land are remembered while we are out in the bush. It’s a healing place. But there are painful gaps — the consequences of colonization and Indian Residential Schools.” 

My mind digs in the soil like a turtle runs until Nov. 25. An artist talk and reception will be held Thursday, Oct. 12 from 6-8 p.m. An in-person tour takes place Tuesday, Oct. 17 at noon, and a virtual tour is available on Oct. 24 at noon on Facebook Live. The Art Gallery of St. Albert is located at 19 Perron Street. 

Anna Borowiecki

About the Author: Anna Borowiecki

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