1976 AND NOW

Colored Pencil/Graphite – 95″ X 135″

In 1976, renowned BC artist Bill Reid was commissioned to design a WC Haida motif for one of five airplane hangers in preparation for Habitat/76, the UN’s first global conference on human settlement that took place at Jericho Beach in Vancouver, a previous WWII military flight base. My Metis biological mother (who moved West from Winnipeg after relinquishing me) was hired to paint Reid’s longhouse design on its face, which took 4 months to execute. There were many images taken to document the event (all donated to the City of Vancouver archives). Shortly after Habitat’s conclusion the entire site was destroyed (or as government officials said “reclaimed for redevelopment”). Wanting to connect our creative natures, my biological mother showed me this picture in 1998, shortly after our first awkward meeting when I was twenty-six, as she too was twenty-six when working on the mural. This one image became the source for the drawing 1976 And Now.

My present reconstruction of it as a large-scale drawing has become a metaphor for an ethnicity and relationship I have struggled with since meeting her and learning of my new Metis heritage now twenty-five years ago. This almost filmic source image (three times removed by technical processes) of a mix of individuals in seventies garb occupying the site, then documented as a moment in time (which could also have been a moment in this time), is an icon for a damaged and haunting history and cultural identity that continues to be a paradox politically and personally. The past, present and future are all compressed in the painstaking year long making of this drawing. The re-creating / investment of this image / instant is about moving closer to my estranged Metis identity through this thrice removed snapshot.