For untold centuries Aboriginal peoples of the Americas have been interweaving communities through the mutual exchange of songs, stories, cultural practices, and finely made art objects. Passed down through generations, and disseminated through trade and other networks, these expressive art forms helped to affirm alliances and kinship ties, while fostering interdependence and mutual responsibility. This tradition of intercultural sharing and communal enrichment continues today in the 5th Annual New Sun Conference on Aboriginal Arts.
“We are all related,” the late Ojibway artist Carl Beam frequently professed—related to each other, to the land, and to all that live on the land. Beam was not just referring to Aboriginal peoples, but to all of humanity. While communal, by nature, none of us is a member of only one community. In fact, we share membership in many discrete yet interwoven communities simultaneously—ethnic, religious, social, political, academic, professional, national, and global. There is a dynamic quality to such communities, with porous and shifting boundaries and common points of intersection and overlap. Contemporary Aboriginal artists—in performing, publishing, literature, and the visual arts—capture this dynamic spirit in their work, drawing inspiration from diverse communal traditions, to weave together a richly textured and multihued fabric of indigenous cultural experience. Today, we gather together to further unfold this fabric.
All my relations,
Allan J. Ryan
A presentation of the New Sun Chair in Aboriginal Art and Culture
with the support of the Dean of Arts and Social Sciences and the New Sun Fund
administered by the Community Foundation of Ottawa, plus the generosity of private donors