National billboard exhibit includes work of York faculty member Lisa Myers

through surface tension – 2013 (video still), by Lisa Myers
through surface tension – 2013 (video still), by Lisa Myers

Beginning June 1, billboards across the nation will feature contemporary art created by 50 Indigenous female artists in a call-to-action exhibition project titled “Resilience.” The project, which runs until Aug. 1, includes art by Lisa Myers, York University assistant lecturer and coordinator of the Certificate in Cultural and Artistic Practice for Environmental and Social Justice (CAP).

through surface tension – 2013 (video still), by Lisa Myers
through surface tension – 2013 (video still), by Lisa Myers

“Resilience, The National Billboard Exhibition Project” will showcase images by 50 First Nations, Inuit and Métis women artists from across Canada, and addresses call-to-action #79 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report that calls for integration of “Indigenous history, heritage values, and memory practices into Canada’s national heritage and history”.

Myers, who joined York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies (FES) in the fall of 2016, is a member of Beausoleil First Nation. She is a scholar, artist and curator. Her artwork and participatory performance has been included in venues such as Urban Shaman (Winnipeg), Carleton University Art Gallery (Ottawa) Peterborough Art Gallery (Peterborough) and the Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto).

In this exhibit, Myers shares a still from a video, titled “through surface tension”, which depicts the surface of the Ottawa River taken from Victoria Island, and conveys a perspective where the water appears to engulf the Parliament buildings.

Taken in 2013, the video is one of several shot by Myers from locations around the Great Lakes. Foregrounding the importance of water, each camera shot attempts to capture the ever-changing surface, or horizon line of Lake Ontario, Lake Superior, Lake Huron and the Ottawa River. As an ongoing project, Myers will continue shooting this summer in Lake Michigan, Lake Erie, Lake St. Clair and the St. Lawrence Seaway.

“Photographing water from this submersed perspective means that the images evoke imaginings of travelling under the water and emerging through its surface to observe industry, governance, power, everyday life and survival, storms and waves all striking the shore, and conveys the centrality of water or for life,” she said.

The exhibit is curated by Lee-Ann Martin, and produced by Shawna Dempsey, co-executive director of MAWA (Mentoring Artists for Women’s Art). Martin’s decades of curatorial work and writing has inspired and influenced many artists and curators of Myers’ generation and beyond. In her curatorial essay “The Resilient Body” Martin asserts that the “artists in this exhibition resist and oppose ongoing injustices against Indigenous individuals and nations.”

Images included in the project “embody the multitude of connections and contradictions that constitute contemporary Indigenous identities,” according to the Resilience Project website.

Visit the billboard locations map to find the art on display across Canada as part of this exhibit.