November 17-20, 2011
Concourse Gallery, Emily Carr University of Art + Design
Bison Crossing, Sturgeon River (Saskatchewan), 2011
by Sandra Semchuk and The Sturgeon River Plains Bison Stewards
Bison Crossing uses the critter camcorders and sensors. The bison trigger the taking of their own images at the Sturgeon River Crossing. These images have been contributed to this project by collaborators, The Sturgeon River Bison Stewards, Joanne Reimer and Gordon Vaadeland. Lenticular printing is a technology in which a lenticular lens is used to produce images with an illusion of depth, or the ability to change or move as the image is viewed from different angles. As an artist I am using the new lenticular technologies with large lenticular printing presses to reveal glimpses of the complex specificities of private daily lives of the wild bison that move once more freely across the landscape, including on agricultural lands, in Northern Saskatchewan.
Sandra grew up in a grocery store in the northern town of Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan. Her father, Martin Semchuk, was a socialist who helped bring medicare to Saskatchewan. Sandra is a storyteller, photographer and video artist whose inquiry includes small animals that constantly count “coup” on her, coming close enough to make it impossible for her to video them. Her collaborations and video works use autobiography and dialogue as the basis for recognition and identity across generations, cultures and species. She collaborated with her father through four near death experiences. As a partner in Treaties (where there are Treaties in Canada), member of the settler culture and widow of a traditional Cree speaker, artist James Nicholas, Sandra disrupts myths that historically have shaped settler relations to First Nations. She works with personal experience as a basis for storytelling. She and James collaborated for fifteen years on photographic and video works that use flora and fauna to consider possible relationships between the indigenous and the non-indigenous. Recent collaborations include a billboard on 20th street in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan made with Cree healer, Archie Weenie and the Sturgeon River Bison Stewards. She currently teaches photography at Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver.
The Sturgeon River Plains Bison Stewards (in the photo Joanne Reimer)
In the small town of Big River, Saskatchewan, an important international movement has grown to negotiate possible relationships between the bison and farmer/ranchers. These are the Sturgeon River Bison Stewards, composed of concerned citizens; farmers, ranchers, First Nations and Metis. The Stewards act as liaison between the land owners and the bison who move freely across the farm and ranch lands. This project demonstrates respect for the indigenous bison and makes space for them to grow themselves.
The three hundred plus bison that now move between Prince Albert National Park on the southside of Sturgeon River, where there are ranch and farm lands, are direct descendants of the original plains bison that were the basis for First Nations’ survival.