McMaster Indigenous Health Movement art exhibit on display at Hamilton Artists Inc.

Joleen Awad
February 29, 2024
Est. Reading Time: 2 minutes

The McMaster Indigenous Health Movement's Art is Medicine exhibit encourages viewers to learn more about health and well-being from an Indigenous youth perspective

From Jan. 26 to Mar. 9, Hamilton Artists Inc. is hosting the Art is Medicine exhibit, curated by the McMaster University Indigenous Health Movement, a student-based initiative at McMaster that works to educate students and community members about current issues related to Indigenous health and well-being. The exhibit features work by Indigenous youth artists Anang Binesi, Courtnee Osawabine, Justice Ryan, Nikaronhya'a Dawn Martin and Shayde Sandy.

The exhibit highlights issues related to Indigenous health and well-being through mediums such as photography, painting and traditional beading practices. The artworks strive to re-examine Indigenous health and add the perspectives of younger generations to the conversation.

Albany Sutherland and Darci Debassige are the co-chairs of IHM and the idea for the exhibit came from their brainstorming efforts This year, their focus has been heavily on community engagement and getting more students off-campus, so Sutherland pitched the idea to Hamilton Artists Inc. and put out a call for Indigenous artists under 30 to contribute to the event.

Sutherland pointed out that there are not many youth shows around Hamilton's art scene at the moment and the exhibit's themes contribute to its uniqueness.

"Focusing on healing, medicine, community and well-being, and intertwining all those themes together, is important and powerful. People wanted to come out and see the art, meet with the artists and learn," said Sutherland.

Focusing on healing, medicine, community and well-being and intertwining all those themes together is important and powerful. People wanted to come out and see the art, meet with the artists and learn.

Albany Sutherland, Co-chair, Indigenous Health Movement

The exhibit has had great turnout so far and the IHM received positive feedback on their community-centred approach. Art is Medicine also co-opened with I hear you everywhere I go, an exhibit by Indigenous and Black tattoo artists at the Inc. The two exhibits complement each other thematically and have attracted a larger audience together.

Sutherland hoped those who visit the exhibit will recognize other ways of seeing and understanding health and well-being beyond the clinical and Western-based ones.

It is also important to acknowledge that Indigenous health, well-being, spirituality and knowledge are all intertwined and show up in different contexts. This exhibit is just one of those contexts, providing new and impactful perspectives to the broader community. [Is this based on something they said in the interview? Seems a bit out of place where it currently is--NG]

Sutherland also explained why students specifically should check out the exhibit, besides McMaster's connection to the IHM and the chance to see friends or peers participating in an art event [this sentence reads awkwardly, reword--NG]

"I think it's also just good for students to get out into the community and leave campus and experience the art scene in Hamilton and community. I know a lot of McMaster students don't get to experience that. So I think it's kind of like a positive push," said Sutherland.

Art is Medicine is a great exhibit to check out for students interested in anything creative or to learn more about Indigenous cultures and traditions. The exhibit also, crucially, provides the opportunity to get more involved with the Hamilton community beyond campus.

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