On National Aboriginal Day (June 21), the Charlotte Street Arts Centre (CSAC) will welcome Ned Bear as the Artist-in-Residence. His month-long journey at CSAC is supported by a recent grant achievement through artsnb (Artist-in-Residence Program). In 2009, in partnership with Gallery Connexion and the City of Fredericton, CSAC featured José Luise Torres as Artist-in-Residence with great success.
Although Ned Bear was the first Aboriginal student to graduate from the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design, his passion for education did not end there. He continued studies at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, went on to receive a Bachelor of Education from the University of New Brunswick and then graduate study courses in Critical Theory from the same institution. A natural teacher, Bear has been an instructor of First Nations art and culture, a curator, guest speaker, art juror, and was a board member for the Society of Canadian Artists of First Nations Ancestry (SCANA).
In 2006, Bear was honoured with a fellowship from the prestigious Smithsonian Institute in New York City. More recently, Bear joined the “Group of 10”, a cooperative of Atlantic First Nations artists, to install a free-standing public sculpture at Whistler, BC, during the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Carrying a wealth of wisdom and almost three decades of practical experience as a professional artist, Bear will inspire the community during his residency by giving an artist talk on Pawakan and by providing the public with a rare opportunity to engage in a traditional wood-carving workshop.
Pawakan are spirit helpers, known historically for their lifelong guidance over the Plains Cree people. Bear’s Pawakan installation art is guided by a deep sense of spiritual values and connection to the organic. He will use his space and time at the CSAC to prepare for his upcoming exhibition at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, which will feature his outdoor installation work.
While most of Ned Bear’s outdoor installations have been created in a forest setting, with no advertising, signage, or promotion, left for accidental discovery, it’s not by chance that he will arrive at the Charlotte Street Art Centre.
“Hosting a prominent artist like Ned Bear is a huge coup for the Charlotte Street Arts Centre. Not only do we have the opportunity to house an important piece of public First Nations art, for all New Brunswickers to access and appreciate, but we are extremely honoured that Ned chose us to work with. Our growing partnerships with First Nations communities and artists around the province will continue to come more strongly into focus in 2011 and in future years,” says WhiteFeather, Executive Director, Fredericton Arts & Learning, Inc.
CSAC’s newly developing Culture Garden, once an overgrown schoolyard, now provides the only designated outdoor installation art venue in the province and is a positive space for community arts engagement, while maintaining the earlier spirit of the grounds. The Culture Garden will feature Bear’s new permanent sculpture, a Pawakan formed from one the CSAC’s 1884 wooden beams used in the original construction of the building.