Fishing, Murray Lake, Sask., 2020
“I offered your family frozen pickerel. You stared at me for a long time and said that you were going to set the nets for your family. Sports fishing made no sense when you were dependent on the fish for survival.”
Sandra Semchuk asks herself the question: what leads towards deeper recognitions across generations, cultures and species? Photographer and scholar, Semchuk is a second generation Ukrainian Canadian. In 2018, Sandra received the Governor General's Award in Visual and Media Arts. Over the decades she has focused her photographic and video works on relationships between herself, her family, and her community. She collaborated with her late husband James Nicholas, Rock Cree writer and orator, on photographic, text and video works to disrupt myths that have shaped settler relations to First Nations. Ithin-eh-wuk - We Place Ourselves at the Centre: James Nicholas and Sandra Semchuk, a collaborative exhibition at the Mackenzie Art Gallery in Saskatoon opened Jan. 28, 2021 and runs through to May 16, 2021. Recent photographic and video works engage the wider-than-human, the forest, and the overtone singing of Jerry DesVoignes to provide a larger context for human narratives. Her artist’s book,The Stories Were Not Told, Canada’s First World War Internment Camps (University of Alberta Press, 2018) creates a space for internees and descendants to tell their stories. For more information on Sandra's work, please visit The National Gallery of Canada website or Rungh Magazine.
Memories of the ECH:
“The time I spent in London, Ontario, 1981-1983, 1984-1987 was so important to my development as an artist. The artists' community there and the vital activities at the Embassy Cultural House were extraordinary.
There was a freedom in the air: the forms, including performance art, installation art and interdisplinary work.
The depth, activism and criticality of works produced and projects engaged set the bar high for the work and collaborations that I have undertaken since.
The ideas by artists such as Bernice Vincent, Coco Gordon, Jamelie Hassan and Ron Benner and curators Marnie Fleming and Bob McKaskell, to name a few, were a great privilege to be engaged with. As I look back, I see how amazing the community and the dialogue between us was and I am grateful to have experienced such generosity in the community.
We were profoundly interested in each other's work, learning from each other, taking risks because of the courage shown by others."