Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Monumental banners across Phillips Academy campus highlight exhibition

Six members of the Innu community, along with artists Wendy Ewald and Eric Gottesman, visited Phillips Academy during the week of October 8, 2012, where they met with a variety Phillips Academy classes with subjects ranging from English to Biology to and Art, and with classes from schools in the local communities. The Innu community members also participated in a series of evening programs, including film screenings and readings. Their visit came as part of the exhibition Pekupatikut Innuat Akunikana/Pictures Woke the People Up: An Innu Project with Wendy Ewald and Eric Gottesman. Their weeklong residency culminated in a public reception at the Addison Gallery of American Art on Saturday, October 13 and included a student led tour of the banner sites on campus.

The project was inspired by Ewald’s 1969 voyage to Sheshatshiu, Labrador, where she first met members of the Innu community, who were adapting to life on a reserve after being forcibly settled several years earlier. The eighteen-year-old Ewald taught the Innu children to document their experiences through photography.

In 2007, concerned by the persistent challenges facing the Innu, Ewald returned to Labrador with fellow photographer Gottesman. They reconnected with many of her former protégées and embarked on a new photographic project with three Innu high school students to create an updated portrait of the community originally depicted in the 1969 photographs. Later, the artists worked with the entire community to create a series of large-scale banners based on the 1969 and 2007 photographs and installed them throughout their community.
The installation of 10 banners at Phillips Academy aims to echo the installation in Labrador and to provoke conversation here about how communities respond to change and challenges, and how they define their identities both internally and to the world at large.

The exhibition can be seen at the Addison Gallery until January 13, 2013. Generous support for Pekupatikut Innuat Akunikana / Pictures Woke the People Up: An Innu Project with Wendy Ewald and Eric Gottesman has been provided by the Abbot Academy Association, which was founded in 1973 to foster and promote the legacy and spirit of Abbot Academy in the campus and in the programs of Phillips Academy, and by the Poss Family Foundation.

Posted by:
Rebecca Hayes
Curator of Education