Jason Baerg: A Path or Gap Among the Trees
As part of the event Pictura Montreal
Text by Noémie Chevalier
Jason Baerg is a Métis Cree visual artist particularly involved in the transmission of Indigenous knowledge and vocation of taking his artistic practice further and further towards a multitude of technical explorations. Baerg has expanded his experimentation in the field of the digital through the use of 3D, interactive, and immersive technologies. In particular, one of the video projects: Kisik Acimowina / Sky Story, produced in collaboration with the artist Carrie Gates and musical composer Michael Red, highlights a journey through time on earth, blending the lines and shapes of an ever-changing land and air landscape. A transdisciplinary artist, Jason Baerg has no limits to his productions and hopes to pave the way for other Métis and Indigenous artists.
Tawâskweyâw ᑕᐋᐧᐢᑫᐧᔮᐤ A Path or Gap Among the Trees is a touring exhibition that offers a retrospective of the artist’s last twenty-five years of art production. Presented last spring at the Woodland Cultural Centre in Brantford, Ontario, it is exciting to bring this project to Montreal. Specifically composed of drawings and paintings, the artist presents a conceptual and formal approach to abstraction informed by phenomena specific to Cree culture. Like the Mohawk artist from Kahnawà:ke, Skawennati, Jason Baerg demonstrates the importance of developing futuristic representations of Indigenous peoples.
The exhibition provides Baerg with an opportunity for self-reflection and introspection to motivate his actions, which he depicts remarkably well with the works Wâsakâm ᐋᐧᓴᑳᒼ Along the Shore (2016) and Pakwachaya ᐸᑲᐧᒐᔭ Wild Creature (2015). On the one hand, each work is provided with two canvases, i.e. two supports. One of them is created to be supported from the ground, the other to be extended onto the wall. The work initially in two dimensions then takes on the attributes of sculptural work. Moreover, this concept of arrangement further supports the artist’s commitment and awareness of the importance of the floor (Earth). On the other hand, Jason Baerg chooses to use Cree syllabics, a consideration of the language, and his origins in Saskatchewan (Baerg grew up in Prince Albert).
This relationship to the land and the environment is also defined in the title of the exhibition and the charcoal on paper called Reclined Nude (1996). A fusional relationship between man and nature, this drawing almost humanizes nature to the point of questioning us on the meaning of the representation. Is it branches of wood? Is it human legs? Baerg wants to confuse us in order to capture our attention better and thus awaken our mind to reflect and think.
Jason Baerg is an Indigenous curator, educator, and visual artist. Curatorial contributions include developing and implementing the national Métis arts program for the Vancouver Olympics. Baerg graduated from Concordia University with a Bachelors of Fine Arts and a Masters of Fine Arts from Rutgers University. He taught at Rutgers University (2014-2016) and served as an adjunct instructor at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico (Fall of 2016). Dedicated to community development, he founded and incorporated the Metis Artist Collective and has served as volunteer Chair for such organizations as the Aboriginal Curatorial Collective and the National Indigenous Media Arts Coalition.