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Jobena Petonoquot: The Rebellion of my Ancestors

Updated: Oct 28, 2019

By Chelsea Moore


Resilient Repugnance Baptism Gowns - via dawsoncollege.qc.ca


The Warren G. Flowers Art Gallery, recently showcased the renowned Fabric artist Jobena Petonoquot. She refers to this specific collection of works as an “ode to my grandfather and his resilience” which is the inspiration behind the title “The Rebellion of my Ancestors.” Her exhibit was curated by Lori Beavis Vernissage and was held From August 29th to September 18th where individuals were encouraged to interact with both the physical elements along with the religious and political undertones weaved throughout the pieces. 

No corner was left untouched or wall unpainted.

From the earthy colour scheme in contrast to the navy wall, to the carefully hung frames that greeted you upon your entrance, Petonoquot was meticulous in the way in which she presented her first exhibit. She comments that “the massiveness of other locations in comparison to my art limited me, this space really taught me how to place my art and paint the walls.” 


This gallery is laid out into three sections allowing Petonoquot to concentrate her pieces by common themes. The first section was dedicated to what the artist explained to be an“interactive art piece meant to represent the distortion of identity and the ever remaining distortion of their identity” as indigiounes people. 


The second and third sections were dedicated to unveiling colonialism and the lasting effects of it on her Algonquin community. There was an intentional Victorian-esque aesthetic that was carried throughout these two sections as, she states “it’s something that I encountered often as  I hold onto the stories my grandfather told me and now I am trying to tell them through my point of view.” One example of this aesthetic was executed through the delicate beading on the hanging baptism dresses which were intended to represent the weaponization of Christianity towards the indeginous communities during the Victorian period. Also, the small decorated containers of dirt represented the importance of land to the indigenous community and how it was taken from them. 


Jobena Petonoquot comments, “I’m using my art in a beautiful sarcastic way.” She chose the route of Fabric art to relate to the fabricated identity thrusted upon her as an indigenous woman. She comments, “my main goal as an artist is to become a human. People are interested in a fabricated identity and selling you an idea and during my residency I had to get very real and get people to know me as a person not just this indigenous commodity.” 


After winning the 5th Edition of the residency impressions at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Jobena wanted to take advantage of both her newfound recognition and the popularity of being indigenous at this time which inspired her to construct this exhibit. Currently, Jobena is collaborating with an artist on the board of Aborel Gallery on a project that addresses the indigenous relationship with slavery. Jobena will continue to use her art to share her point of view and stay connected with her Algonquin community. 


The Warren G. Flowers Art Gallery:

Edwin Janzen: Remotes - October 3rd

Reclaiming My Place: Sharon Norwood, 

Shannon Strauss, Cedar-Eve Peters - October 31

3rd Year Photo Grad Student - December 5th

AEC Graduating Students -     December 17

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