By Robin Laurence
SANTIAGO MOSTYN: GRASS WIDOWS
Southern Alberta Art Gallery, Lethbridge. To Sep 10
The meanings and derivations of the term “grass widow” are complex. However, the definition Santiago Mostyn employs in his mixed-media installation has to do with a woman whose husband is away for a prolonged period of time. Mostyn, a multidisciplinary artist who grew up in Zimbabwe and Tobago and is based in Sweden, employs the grass widow metaphor in the context of slavery and the African diaspora to signify displacement or “in-between-ness.” Among other components, his work uses archival images to explore the history of Black Americans from Oklahoma who homesteaded in northern Alberta in the early 20th century, as well as his own father’s reverse migration, from the United States to Africa.
HALIE FINNEY: THE GHOSTS OF THE MINK MAKE A BIG SPIRIT
Art Gallery of Alberta, Edmonton. Jun 4 – Oct 25
Emerging artist Halie Finney, who grew up in Canyon Creek, on the southern shore of Lesser Slave Lake, uses her drawing-based practice to affirm her Métis heritage and her sense of connection to community and to place. Her 2019 work Ghost Dogs was installed on and in two cars of Edmonton’s LRT, and conjured up the spirits of beloved dogs of her farm childhood. Her current installation in the AGA’s Manning Hall twines together other childhood memories – the once- prosperous and then abandoned mink farms of her grandparents’ generation, the choking smoke of wildfires, the reassuring smoke of summer bonfires – to create an amorphous work of loss and life, danger and celebration.