“This is one the first galleries I was to, to see professional art,” said the 2008 graduate of the Grenfell Campus fine arts program.
The Mi’kmaq artist from Stephenville Crossing said he was fresh out of high school when he had that experience, and now he’ll be the artist that a new crop of first-year students will see when they come to the campus in September.
He added it’s especially exciting since so many young indigenous people attend the university.
When starting out it was always Bennett’s plan to tie his art to his culture.
“My intention always was to just be true to the art form, but also to the community and where I come from.”
So many of his projects try to bring Newfoundland into the gallery.
“It’s all about home for me.”
While that’s something that has never changed, his work has grown and come to incorporate different mediums.
Wije’wi (Come With Me) contains a lot of paintings, carvings and audio installations.
And lately he’s been learning more of the language and bringing that into his work.
As a child it was rare to hear people speak the language, but he remembers his grandmother talking about hearing languages from the Mi’kmaq basket ladies that came from Nova Scotia.
He uses a Mi’kmaq language app to help in titling his pieces and said it is a great tool for viewers of his art to hear how it is pronounced.
“It’s a language lesson for myself, but also an access point for other people who want to learn the language, too,” said Bennett.
Wije’wi (Come With Me), which is not his first exhibit at the Grenfell Campus Art Gallery opens today with a reception from 4:30-6 p.m.
Bennett be in the area until June 23, and after the past nine years of coming back and forth to the province, including working on a couple of projects at the Grenfell gallery, and spending time abroad he’s about to make that full circle of his life more complete.
He and his wife, Amy Malbeuf, are planning to move from northern Alberta to Stephenville Crossing.
Wije’wi (Come With Me) consists of paintings on wood, a series of drawings and two carvings in yellow cedar with an interactive audio component. Bennett uses known Beothuk and Mi’kmaq visual patterns, symbols and colours to create landscapes, which represent the island of Ktaqamkuk (Newfoundland). The series tells the story and journey of the people.