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The following is excerpted from a press release issued by the City of Vancouver.

The City of Vancouver Public Art Program is unveiling four Platforms: Nine Places for Seeing projects this month. The first two to be presented are Coming Home To by Robin Roberts and Eagle Woman by Shain Niniwem Selapem Jackson.

Shain Niniwem Selapem Jackson’s Eagle Woman is a digital drawing of an eagle matriarch dancing beneath a full copper moon. The work was inspired by the many women in the artist’s life who have lifted him up and provided love, guidance and support. The artist intends for viewers to feel these women’s ability to dance through adversity and pain with ferocious dignity and courage. In the artists own words:

In each era rises a matriarch. She lives her entire life to serve but she’s no servant. She’s a weaver. Attendant to a loom made of passed down parts. Its components fashioned generation after generation by glorious women who carry an exquisite vision, one of love and unity. The strands of her cloth are souls. Some have heartbeats, others made up only of memories spliced together with artful abandon.

Some strands are copper and gold. Others are beautiful with ends frayed, tattered, or torn. She’ll mend them with the fibres of her own frock despite being threadbare itself. Such is the sacrifice her art insists.

This work is installed at the Olympic Village Station at Cambie and 2nd. It will be in place until March 15, 2024.

Robin Roberts’ Coming Home To, showing on the windows of the Canada Line King Edward Station until March 15, 2024, depicts a pantheon of animals drawn in northern Haida style Formline. The inspiration for the bentwood box frontlet approach came from the artist sketching while listening to Aboriginal Studies professors speak about the Indian Act, the creation of reserves and residential schools. He found himself continually drawing boxes that are representative of attempts to confine, or box in Indigeneity.

The work was created in three sections with the left and right windows depicting a bentwood box frontlet figure and a killer whale, representing the water realm. Placing the bentwood box figures on the outer panels was done so that the images are contained within that box. The center window depict from left to right, an eagle with a human figure (sky and earth realms), a Bear Mother story (earth realm), and a raven stealing the sun, with a salmon egg as the sun (sky and water realms).

This work is presented on translucent vinyl, in part to suggest stained glass windows and the history of religion related to both the artists family and the church’s role in the process of colonization.

Three of Robins’ grandparents went to residential school, with the fourth attending day-school. Due to Canadian attempts at erasure, there is a concept in the artist’s nation of coming back home.

This work is in honour of that return. Robin reinforces that narrative with the depiction of the salmon, who is known for its arduous return journey, along with the Haida story of the mother bear which is itself, a story of transformation and returning home.

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