PLRAC executive director keeping busy in 2022

Peace Liard Regional Arts Council executive director Haley Bassett says she’s got her hands full with art proj…

Peace Liard Regional Arts Council executive director Haley Bassett says she’s got her hands full with art projects and exhibitions planned for 2022 and beyond.

Her latest work, Métis Modern, is being displayed at the Art Gallery of Grande Prairie, as part of their dissecting identities exhibit.

“It’s about exploring identity in the present day and how certain societal and cultural factors, as well as technology might affect how we perceive ourselves,” she said. “So there’s actually even some interesting virtual reality being used in the show. It’s a broad spectrum of experiences.”

Her piece examines the post-colonial Métis identity after assimilation, says Bassett, using the archetype of a hunter – clad in camouflage with orange accents, a common clothing item found in Northern BC.

“A lot my work has to do with Métis identity and the complications in claiming that now, so many years after the colonization of Canada,” said Bassett. “Some people feel awkward about claiming Métis identity now. With my work I’m trying to untie those knots.”

Bassett herself has both Métis heritage and Eastern European roots, which was explored in her last major exhibit, Matrilineal. She says her project is intended to visually bridge the past and present by pairing modern hunting gear with traditional bead work.

“Hunting has always been part of my family. Not something I’ve done personally, but my dad was a guide. He would bring wild meat home and it was nothing unusual, he never considered a part of our culture that we were participating in, just a fact of life,” said Bassett.

The Arts Council’s 40th juried exhibition is also slated to take place in Tumbler Ridge in May, and is titled Open Sky, celebrating the stunning skies of Northern B.C.

Bassett says she’s looking forward to the return to an in-person format, after two years of being kept virtual because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We felt after 40 years it was time for a refresh,” said Bassett. “The name really reflects the big prairie skies that we have here, but also openness in what’s accepted in the show, if you submit a piece, it will be accepted. It’s for artists of all levels.”

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