Métis artist Tracey-Mae Chambers hopes the art will spark a conversation about decolonization

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Tracey-Mae Chambers was lost during the pandemic, struggling to connect with people, her family and her community.

This was the initial inspiration for his latest project, in which individual strands of the same red thread connect to a larger work of art.

“I started to think about it in a literal sense, that we are all connected and we share certain things like veins and blood,” Chambers told CBC News.

“Everything that this encompasses for me is shown as a common thread. How can I illustrate my needs or want to connect with my family, my friends, my community on a larger scale.”

Each strand of wire connects to each other and ultimately to a larger piece that is also made of red wire, Chambers explained. (Carmen Groleau / CBC)

When news of the discovery of the remains of Indigenous children at a former Kamloops residential school surfaced, the Métis artist decided to change direction and incorporate this event into her work.

“I started to see the string as a racial insult, as a representation of courage, of passion, but also of hatred,” she said.

Her piece, now titled Hope and Healing Canada, is the last indoor and outdoor exhibit at the Guelph Civic Museum.

Chambers said she used over 12,000 yards of red thread for this installation and was keen to reuse the same thread from previous installations as it carries the stories of the people she met and their community.

Tracey-Mae Chambers is working on part of the Hope and Healing Canada installation at the Guelph Civic Museum. (Carmen Groleau / CBC)

She weaves and crosses threads to create intricate geometric patterns with the goal, she says, of her work initiating a conversation about decolonization.

“The complicated designs came out of it because the problem is so complicated and the deconstruction of colonization is so complicated,” she said.

“I want to be able to strike up an uncomfortable conversation with Canadian settlers about decolonization, which is such a frightening and heavy word.

Chambers’ works will be on display at the Guelph Civic Museum until October 24 and then continue on tour across Canada.

As her work travels across the country, each installation will look different depending on where it is hosted, but the message will remain the same.

Chambers used the window facing the Basilica of Our Lady Immaculate to make his own stained glass that Catholic churches often have. She said she tried to illustrate the pain she feels towards the institution through this piece. (Carmen Groleau / CBC)

For this particular installation, Chambers said she used the window overlooking the Basilica of Our Lady Immaculate to create her own stained glass window, which she says is often associated with Catholic churches.

She said she tried to illustrate the pain and frustration she feels towards the institution through this part of the facility.

“I want [people] to look at this church through an indigenous lens, ”she said.

“It felt like the right thing to do and then look through these complicated structures that I made to something even more complicated.”

Once the visit was over, Chambers said the photographs and stories she documented along the way would eventually be turned into a book.


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