Devine correspondence

Toronto Ojibwa artist Bonnie Devine draws audiences into her personal tales of home in her latest exhibition

Toronto-based artist Bonnie Devine takes a multidisciplinary approach to her work. She is a member of the Serpent River First Nation of Northern Ontario (Ojibwa). She acts as writer, curator, photographer and new media and visual artist, creating contemporary works which focus on aboriginal heritage and culture.

Her newest installation, Writing Home, is currently on display at Urban Shaman Gallery in Winnipeg and runs until Saturday, March 27.

The exhibition combines video, glass impressions, photographs and written text on paper interwoven with red thread.

Through this highly-personal artistic display, she actualizes her correspondence home, using sounds, text, images and sculptural impressions to invite viewers into the very geography of the land (Serpent River, mainly) to which she is akin.

Writing Home is very personal, but it has a strong historical element in the text components,” Devine wrote in an e-mail from her home in Toronto.

“It originated at Gallery Connexion in Fredericton and was programmed by former Urban Shaman director K.C. Adams,” she explained when asked how she decided to exhibit the show in Winnipeg. “I suppose she saw something interesting in it.

“This is my second exhibition at Urban Shaman. I showed Stories from the Shield in 2004.”

History and culture are evidently integral to Devine’s work.

As a professor at the Ontario College of Art and Design, she teaches and is the director of the Aboriginal Visual Culture Program.

Her expertise and background informs her work, which has been shown in various locales across the United States and Canada, including a two-year national tour of the curatorial project The Drawings and Paintings of Daphne Odjig: A Retrospective Exhibition.

Her recent international credit comprises a screening of her most recent video, A Grim Fairy Tale, at the 2009 Berlin Film Festival.

As an aboriginal educator and artist, she is pleased at the prospect of an aboriginal component in the pending Canadian Museum for Human Rights, set to open in Winnipeg. Whether or not that component will include any of her work or her involvement, Devine won’t say.

“I don’t have any plans for [that] right now.”

Visit Urban Shaman at 203-290 McDermot Ave. or online at

Published in Volume 64, Number 21 of The Uniter (March 4, 2010)

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