'WHAT DOES GOOD WORK LOOK LIKE?'
exhibition by Suzanne & Clayton Morrissette
June 17 - July 30, 2023
Public Discussion with the curator, Lillian O'Brien Davis
We are delighted to share the exhibition, 'What does good work look like?' by Suzanne Morrissette with her brother Clayton Morrissette. There'll be a public conversation with the artist and curator during the opening.
The exhibition features a series of photographic and video works as well as fabric sculptures, the majority of which came together throughout the pandemic as Suzanne was in Ontario and at a distance from her family in Winnipeg. Her family histories and blood lineage provides the structural footing for the various public-facing cultural roles she holds including as a scholar, curator, and her work as an artist. As such, in coalescing the varying facets that constitute this exhibition, she was deeply thinking about her family, the land and waters of Winnipeg where she was born, raised, and is a citizen of the Manitoba Metis Federation. Her brother Clayton Morrissette who is a musician became closely integral to the formation of the exhibition and its intangible nuances. For Suzanne, Indigenous stories, methodologies, and epistemologies aren't solely found in written literature; they are far more than that. She honours her family and community's histories as rich and complex sites for cultivating knowledge and connecting towards larger social and political resonances.
The central concern of the exhibition which aptly doubles as its title, critically considers an ongoing, thriving place in the approaching and distant future for Indigenous knowledge, values, and ways of being. This thriving place requires a sturdy armature in the present so as to nourish and bolster generations to come in defiance of a world riddled with historical and continuing colonial violence, intergenerational trauma, capitalist greed, escalating climate catastrophe, and social inequities. For Suzanne, part of this future sustaining work occurs through her role as a mother, partner, daughter, and sister in upholding the Indigenous family and community. It means keeping ancestral knowledge and histories alive by working closely with family and through intimate communal relationships. Through inheritances, generations of storytelling, kitchen-table conversations, songs, and elders, Suzanne emotionally and intellectually sustains herself and in doing so, enlivens and carries forward Indigenous values and presences.
Elaborating on the exhibition's proposition, Suzanne writes:
“What does good work look like? This is a question I am asking about how we evaluate what has been learned and whether what has been learned and then been determined to be right has also been heeded. But what are the rubrics of this evaluation? As an artist I am thinking about this question from the perspective of my family and our home, and our pasts and futures as people who come from Indigenous and settler histories. How can I contribute in a good way to future-thinking that foregrounds the brilliance of Indigenous people while simultaneously tending to the ongoing impacts of profound injustice. The question asked by this exhibition aims to develop tools for evaluating the successes of endeavours towards good work from within values rooted in a sense of futurity that is sometimes personal, sometimes shared, and always dynamic.”
Suzanne's father’s parents were Michif- and Cree-speaking Metis with family histories tied to the Interlake and Red River regions and Scrip in the area now known as Manitoba. Her mother’s parents came from Canadian-born farming families descended from United Empire loyalists and Mennonites from Russia. The late Larry Morrissette, a vocal champion of Winnipeg's Indigenous community, North-end's Bear Clan Patrol co-founder is her uncle. Suzanne has previously acknowledged her uncle's life like many in the rest of her family, as the foundation upon which she now builds her work and research.
Suzanne has recently exhibited Gallery 44, Toronto, and daphne art centre, Montreal. Her work has appeared in numerous group exhibitions such as Lii Zoot Tayr (Other Worlds), an exhibition of Metis artists working with concepts of the unknowable, and the group exhibition of audio-based work about waterways called FLOW with imagineNATIVE Film + Media Art Festival. Morrissette holds a Ph.D. from York University in Social and Political Thought. She currently holds the position of Assistant Professor and Graduate Program Director for the Criticism and Curatorial Practices and Contemporary Art, Design, and New Media Histories Masters programs at OCAD University.
This exhibition was originally curated by Lillian O'Brien Davis at Gallery 44 in Toronto. We are happy to be re-presenting this exhibition in Winnipeg where the communities and families that influence its central tenets are rooted.
During the opening, Davis will engage in a public conversation about the show.