locating the little heartbeats is a multi-media exhibition by artist Julie Nagam. Julie Nagam is a scholar, a curator and an artist. In her art, Nagam reads the land as a valuable archive of memory and as a witness. Her installations bring forward important relational concepts through painting with light, animation and projection. These multi-sensory creations incorporate drawing, painting, photography, sculpture, video and sounds from natural elements. Nagam’s artworks result in interactive and transformative experiences for audiences and create the condition of bringing the natural world indoors.
The impetus for Nagam’s work stems from her concern for the environment, water systems, and land-based knowledge. Issues around unclean drinking water, food sustainability, foraging, rapid melting of the polar ice caps, chemically-contaminated lakes and the finite nature of water are all alarming realities that society faces. Through her art, Nagam offers hope: “our survival and our continuation as a people are tied to Indigenous knowledge of the land and a return or an extension of these land-based practices is what will bring us into the future.”
Each of the works in locating the little heartbeats invokes the magical elements of flora that are indigenous to a specific area to remind viewers of the healing qualities of each plant. Specific plants, including bearberry, blueberry, fireweed, Labrador tea, and tobacco root, are highlighted by Nagam for their multi-faceted properties as medicine or food or for their use in ceremony. These plants are also special due to her particular relationship with them. Wild blueberries are a favorite food staple, she draws upon tobacco root for courage, and savors the smell of boiling Labrador tea.
Nagam brings her plant drawings to life as moving image projections via digital technologies: stems stretch, leaves extend, berries and flowers burst forth. The resiliency of each herb and bush is highlighted as they seem to sprout from the earth and sway in the breezes of our imagination. Supported by the ambient sounds of nature, Nagam’s “living ecosystem” considers the vital lifelines that indigenous plant life and the land offer to the human world.
Text: Jennifer Gibson, Director/Curator Gallery 1C03, The University of Winnipeg
Exhibition open to the public
6 – 14 December
Wednesday – Saturday 11 am – 4 pm
Closed on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday