WAG-Qaumajuq Celebrates Opening of Kwaata-nihtaawakihk: A Hard Birth Exhibition
New exhibition remembers and honours the unique history of the creation of Manitoba
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Treaty No. 1 Territory, March 15, 2022: The Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG)-Qaumajuq is pleased to announce the opening of Kwaata-nihtaawakihk: A Hard Birth, an essential remembering and honouring of the formation of the province of Manitoba and the Métis Nation’s role in Manitoba’s creation. The Métis Nation is the birthplace of Manitoba.
Curated by guest curators Cathy Mattes and Sherry Farrell Racette, Kwaata-nihtaawakihk: A Hard Birth features key archival documents, historic objects, and paintings alongside the work of 14 contemporary artists representing the Red River Métis Nation, First Nations, and non-Indigenous communities, including Rosalie Favell, Amanda Strong, Sheri Osden Nault, Lori Blondeau, Ian August, Jenny Meyer, Lita Fontaine, Katherine Boyer, Jennine Krauchi, Scott Benesiinaabandan, KC Adams, Theo Simms, Amanda Smart, and Calvin Yarush. The exhibition features beautiful works in a wide variety of mediums, including beadwork, painting, photography, film, textiles, sculpture, and performance. Originally conceived as a part of the Manitoba 150 commemoration, Kwaata-nihtaawakihk (pronounced kwa-ta knee-ta wa kick) is Michif for describing a difficult birth, a name gifted by Métis elder Verna DeMontigny.
As a part of the curators’ commitment to Indigenous ways of knowing and being, the exhibition will also feature programming that centres interactivity, community, and dialogue, including Mawachihitotaak (Let’s Get Together) Métis Studies Symposium, as well as art workshops, poetry, music, guest speakers, and performance art.
- Curated by Cathy Mattes and Sherry Farrell Racette, Kwaata-nihtaawakihk: A Hard Birth is a new exhibition focused on the formation of the province of Manitoba through a Métis perspective.
- The name Kwaata-nihtaawakihk (pronounced kwa-ta knee-ta wa kick) was gifted to the exhibition by Métis elder, Verna DeMontigny.
- The opening celebration of Kwaata-nihtaawakihk – A Hard Birth will take place on March 18, 2022 at 7pm with free admission and will feature an Awakening of the Artwork, fiddle performances by Melissa St. Goodard, Morgan Grace, Jason Lepine, and Garry Lepine, and a cash bar.
- Four artists are creating commissioned works for this exhibition, including Jennine Krauchi’s new large-scale beadwork piece.
- The exhibition features work by Rosalie Favell, Amanda Strong, Sheri Osden Nault, Lori Blondeau, Ian August, Jenny Meyer, Lita Fontaine, Katherine Boyer, Jennine Krauchi, Scott Benesiinaabandan, KC Adams, Theo Simms, Amanda Smart, and Calvin Yarush.
- The exhibition will include opportunities for dialogue and connection through programming such as Tapwe Talks, a collaboration with the National Gallery of Canada, and curatorial tours with the guest curators on Saturday, March 19th and Sunday, March 20th. Learn more about this and other programming at wag.ca
- Mawachihitotaak (Let’s Get Together) Métis Studies Symposium will take place May 3-6, 2022
- Kwaata-nihtaawakihk: A Hard Birth is open from March 19, 2022 to September 3, 2022
- Explore the exhibition for FREE at our April Free Sunday, thanks to Canada Life
We are honouring an incredibly important history through this exhibition—and not that many people know it. It isn’t simply celebratory. It’s complicated and painful. And it’s still unfolding. This isn’t a chronological museum exhibition—this is a story told through art—with historical and contemporary work woven throughout – like the strands of a sash. It’s been humbling to reflect on the founders of Manitoba, and what they lived through in the aftermath. To honour the beauty and potential of the Red River Settlement, and centre the vitality of their descendants.
We have brought home some treasures we are very excited to share with the WAG audience.
— Sherry Farrell Racette, Guest Curator, Kwaata-nihtaawakihk: A Hard Birth
This exhibition is an opportunity to honour, celebrate, and really recognize the contributions and lived experiences of Métis, First Nations and our relationships with settlers in what is now known as Manitoba. Kwaata-nihtaawakihk: A Hard Birth communicates the vitality of art in story-sharing, and I hope it’s also recognized as an instigator for conciliation and reconciliation. My hope is that Métis people consider this exhibition of great benefit, and a space for refuge, remembering and pride. It is a space for thoughtful and perhaps challenging dialogue, as this is a complicated and at times difficult remembering.
— Cathy Mattes, Guest Curator, Kwaata-nihtaawakihk: A Hard Birth
Kwaata-nihtaawakihk: A Hard Birth tells the story of the creation of Manitoba from a Métis perspective, a history that has much to teach us today. Through artwork and archival materials, the exhibition highlights evidence of not only the struggle, but also of the hope, resilience, and dreamings of the Métis Nation, as well as the Anishinaabek, Cree, and Europeans who have helped shape this province. The artworks in this stunning show evince incredible beauty and depth of thought.
— Dr. Stephen Borys, Director & CEO, WAG-Qaumajuq
The WAG thanks supporting sponsors the Manitoba Métis Federation and Infinity Women Secretariat.
For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact:
Public Relations Officer
Winnipeg Art Gallery
Amy Rebecca Harrison
Manager of Engagement
Winnipeg Art Gallery
The Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG)-Qaumajuq is a cultural advocate using art to connect, inspire, and inform. Playing a dynamic role in the community, we are a place for learning, dialogue, and enjoyment through art. Opened in March 2021, Qaumajuq connects to the WAG on all levels, celebrating the largest public collection of contemporary Inuit art in the world. The new WAG-Qaumajuq cultural campus is now one of the largest art museums in Canada. To learn more visit wag.ca.