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Artist presents dream-inspired exhibition at Nanaimo Art Gallery

Calgary-based multi-disciplinary artist Audie Murray makes Nanaimo debut with ‘Pawatamihk’

A Calgary-based multi-disciplinary artist is making her Nanaimo debut with an exhibition inspired by dreams and dreaming.

From Oct. 22 to Jan. 9, 2022, Audie Murray presents Pawatamihk at the Nanaimo Art Gallery. Murray, who is Michif, said the show is named for the Michif and Plains Cree word for “dream.” She will also be giving an artist talk on Oct. 23.

Murray said ideas around dreaming runs through a lot of the pieces in the show, and while some people may be dismissive of dreaming, she said it can be a form of research and understanding and “there are ways to access dreams in a way that’s really fruitful and makes sense.”

“Dreams are a credible source for information and I think about that in the context of academics, because I’m a student right now,” Murray said. “A lot of citations and resources have to be peer reviewed and written and documented, but in Indigenous cultures dreaming is those things. It is a valid way to gain knowledge.”

Pawatamihk features three repeating motifs: Spider and braiding imagery, which came to Murray in a dream, and the constellation of the Pleiades, which is called Pakone-Kisik in Cree, meaning “hole in the sky,” and is part of a Cree creation story.

“When we’re born we come through that hole in the sky and then when we’re done living here that’s where we go again,” Murray explained. “So I’m really interested in those multiplicities of life and death and circular understandings of the world as opposed to linear understandings of the world.”

Among the works in the show are drawings made using the charcoal from a smudging stick, a video of Murray having her hair braided into the grass of her maternal ancestral land in Saskatchewan’s Qu’Appelle Valley and a collaborative work in which Murray adds beadwork to a painting her mother made 20 years ago. There are also photographs and textile and installation pieces.

NAG curator Jesse Birch met Murray when she used to live in Victoria a few years ago. He said he was impressed by “the way that she works with materials and connections and care across generations.”

“There are at least two different ways that the artist is exploring the idea of dreaming in this exhibition,” he said. “One is the actual act of dreaming as a generative way of coming to know, coming to understand the world, and the other is the sense of dreaming as a way of looking towards the future. Dreaming as a way of imagining a better way forward.”

WHAT’S ON … Pawatamihk by Audie Murray opening reception at the Nanaimo Art Gallery, 150 Commercial St. on Oct. 22 at 7 p.m. Artist talk Oct. 23 at 3 p.m., click here to register. Show runs until Jan. 9, 2022.

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Artist Audie Murray’s installation piece We Are Always Love is among the works on display as part of her Nanaimo Art Gallery exhibition, Pawatamihk. (Josef Jacobson/News Bulletin)