Patrick DeCoste: 13 Moons and a Canoe
On View: October 4, 2019 - January 4, 2020
Organized by John B. Aird Gallery, Guest Curated by Carla Garnet
Essay contribution from Bonnie Devine
Patrick DeCoste: 13 Moons and A Canoe is an interdisciplinary art exhibition exploring the artist’s emerging Métis identity. The main components of the show are a canoe and a circular room.
The exhibition and the dialogue it fosters are offered in the spirit of advancing ongoing conversations about Canadian identity, and how together we might take responsibility for our past, present, and future. In the works that comprise 13 Moons and a Canoe, DeCoste takes up history as something living and breathing, the conceptual weight of his work lightened by its rich materiality. The installation pairs a canoe, retrofitted with a mast and sail, with a circular room made up of thirteen walls – each wall, with exception to a doorway that is left open is adorned with a canvas that is painted with a large, colourful moon – strung across poles hewn from forest trees. This room-within-a-room evokes a pastiche of environmental, cultural, and personal influences. It is, on the one hand, a monument to the Indigenous lunar calendar, an inner sanctum delineated by the full moons that mark the passing of each year, and, on the other hand, a kind of family portrait for the artist; the twelve walls represent DeCoste and each of his eleven siblings. The modified canoe, reveals the thirteenth moon on its sail, this white moon represents the baby who did not survive, the thirteenth child. The canoe sits outside the tridecagon room; it conjures up the genesis of the Métis people in seventeenth-century Nova Scotia, where DeCoste’s family has its roots. It is a potent symbol of First Contact between Europeans and Indigenous peoples – a hybrid object, deceptively quaint in appearance that literalizes the impact of cultures quickening against and into one another.
Patrick DeCoste is an award-winning Toronto-based visual artist who studied fine arts at Mount Allison University and OCAD University, where he received the President’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Graduate Studies in 2014. He has exhibited extensively across Canada and the U.S., has received grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, and the Toronto Arts Council, and was awarded a prestigious Chalmers Arts Fellowship in 2011.
The artist would like to acknowledge his appreciation and thanks for funding support of this exhibition from the Indigenous Arts Project Grants from both the Ontario Arts Council and the Toronto Arts Council.