Listen and view the lecture here:https://vimeo.com/177302424
Michelle LaVallee is the curator of the MacKenzie Art Gallery in Regina, Saskatchewan, and has curated numerous exhibitions including the nationally touring exhibition 7: Professional Native Indian Artists Inc., which was the first large-scale exhibition and publication focused on the PNIAI. The exhibition, which finished it's tour at the Art Gallery of Alberta in Spring 2016, aimed to bring to contemporary view the work and national importance of the first self organized artist collective to push for the recognition of contemporary indigenous art. The far-reaching scope of LaVallee's exhibition and monograph has proven to become a critical resource of the groups history, impact, and current contextualization. LaVallee discussed her consideration of the collective artistic impact of the group in addition to the distinctive styles and experimentations of the individual artists. LaVallee also explained some of the concepts behind the exhibition, including the ideas of artist as story teller and an exploration of ways that exhibitions and institutional spaces can be used as places for critical discussion and community action.
LaVallee's curatorial interests around story telling, art object as living object, and the capabilities of the exhibition space have continued to be prevalent in her work, including the exhibition Moving Forward, Never Forgetting, which was held at the MacKenzie Art Gallery in 2015. This exhibition presented works from both Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists, and strived to assist viewers in the engagement with emotional issues related to indigeneity and the propagation of surrounding dialogue. The exhibition as platform for conversation is a key point in LaVallee's curatorial practice, and this approach can be seen in her development of many avenues for discussion in the show. During the exhibition, Story Keepers were present to assist visitors in understanding the stories behind the art works, and engage in story sharing with the viewers. Within the exhibition, gathering spaces for reflecting and discussing the works were provided to further demonstrate the importance of dialogue.
Throughout her accomplished career as a curator, LaVallee's work focused on the ways that exhibitions can respond to current conditions and help to progress the gallery space as a site of story telling and community engagement has played a large role in the development of spaces and exhibitions which have and will continue to resonate with those who engage with them.