An exhibit in the Thunder Bay Art Gallery explores the career of Jason Baerg — a Métis visual artist, activist, fashion designer, and OCAD professor based in Toronto — who has brought Indigenous culture to the forefront throughout his three-decade long career.
Baerg called the exhibit a 25-year survey of his work featuring pieces from throughout his career, and he said that the title, Tawâskweyâw ᑕᐋᐧᐢᑫᐧᔮᐤ: A Path or Gap Among the Trees, fit the exhibit well.
“When I think about that, I think about growing up on the North Saskatchewan River and playing with my siblings and my cousins out there on the water and yeah, there were lots of trees on the North Saskatchewan River,” he said.
"So I also think about that idea of a path or gap among the trees it it kind of implies to me like it's a natural place for us to walk, we didn't cut down trees to make a path we just kind of meander between the trees and that pathway was just is just offered for us, it's really the intention of walking and not interrupting the land.”
Baerg said that he was born into a creative family and was taught to draw and sew by his mother who Baerg said surrounded him with creativity.
“She really expressed herself very visually as well, like the home we lived in Prince Albert's, It didn't look like much from the street, but when you stepped inside, you definitely understood that my mom had a very dynamic style,” he said.
“She worked with colour, she worked with large prints, and she actually also was quite a character and very charismatic in her own right, and she definitely was a bit of a fashionista, so I guess I would draw, creative influence from my mother, so that's where it started.”
Baerg said that at the core of his work was the desire to create aspirational experiences and narratives as well as positive visions of the future through art just as his own experiences through art and media helped him become who he is today.
“It's been a journey, originally, I wanted to become a fashion designer, like, I'm too spirited from a small town and, you know, when you're a male, you're expected to run toward certain professions, so I think it took a lot of courage to stretch towards becoming an artist,” he said.
“I've always been creative, I've always really been influenced by the media itself, you know, growing up in the 80s, Much Music and TV and fashion file and fashion television really did save my life, actually, the media just kind of was an escape.”
To find out more about Baerg and to view some of his work, visit his website.