Pictured Above: The historic Mohawk Institute Indian Residential School building (left) and the historic Macdonald Consolidated School building, now the Art Gallery of Guelph (right).
Through the Mush Hole Project, the Art Gallery of Guelph (AGG) and the Woodland Cultural Centre (WCC) will recognize our parallel geographic, architectural, and educational histories and our shared obligation to actively respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action. The Mush Hole Project aims to preserve, query, and reveal the complex personal, political, and public narratives around Canada’s residential school system, in general, and the Mohawk Institute Indian Residential School specifically, through the art of contemporary Aboriginal artists.
The Mohawk Institute (the current site of WCC) was built in Brantford in 1904 and, in the same year, the Macdonald Consolidated School (the current site of AGG) was built in Guelph: the buildings have an identical red brick construction, a columned front porch facade, and architectural footprint; however, each was built with a distinct and separate educational, political, and cultural agenda. The Mohawk Institute had a mandate for the “aggressive civilization” of Aboriginal peoples, including forced segregation and assimilation, the eradication of Native languages, and indoctrination to colonial culture and religion, achieved through an abusive “educational” system. The Macdonald Consolidated School was established as Ontario’s first public school, a day school for rural children.
The Mush Hole Project brings together artists, researchers and the public to acknowledge the complex legacy of Canada’s Residential school system and explore the potential of interdisciplinary art and performance as methods of decolonization. In response to a national call for submissions, 17 artist projects were selected to be part of the Mush Hole Project.
September 15, 2016: Official unveiling of Circle Mound by artist Don Russell at the Art Gallery of Guelph
September 16–18, 2016: An immersive, site-specific art and performance installation event at the Woodland Cultural Centre (Brantford, ON)
Nathan Adler (Sponsored by Ontario Arts Council)
Article 11 (Sponsored by Art Gallery of Burlington)
Michael Barber (Sponsored by Ontario Arts Council)
John Henhawk (Henny Jack), Megan Bomberry (Megz), and Krystal Froman (Krystal Riverz) (Sponsored by Art Gallery of Guelph)
Lacie Kanerahtahsóhon Burning (Sponsored by Ontario Arts Council)
Chocolate Woman Collective (Sponsored by Ontario Arts Council and Bob Harding Humanities and Social Sciences – University of Waterloo)
Aylan Couchie (Sponsored by Art Gallery of Burlington)
Sarah Gartshore (Sponsored by Ontario Arts Council)
Kelly Greene (Sponsored by Ontario Arts Council)
Erika Iserhoff (Sponsored by Ontario Arts Council)
Naomi Johnson (Sponsored by Art Gallery of Burlington)
Jodi Lynn Maracle (Sponsored by Native Women in the Arts)
Mini Ode Kwewak N’gamowak (Good Hearted Women Singers) (Sponsored by Ontario Arts Council)
Monique Mojica (Sponsored by Ontario Arts Council)
Don Russell (Sponsored by Art Gallery of Guelph with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts)
Santee Smith (Sponsored by Woodland Cultural Centre – Canadian Heritage)
Jackson Twobears & Janet Rogers (Sponsored by Ontario Arts Council)
The Mush Hole Project has been made possible by the generous support of the Ontario Arts Council, Canada Council for the Arts, Canadian Heritage, Bob Harding Humanities and Social Sciences Award at the University of Waterloo, Centre for Memory and Testimony Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University, and the project’s many collaborative organizations and individuals.