Lectures and Talks

Art Connects | Fall Reading Session with Indigenous Brilliance

Thu Oct 29 4 PM

Vancouver Art Gallery

Vija Celmins, Comet, 1991, relief print on paper, Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery, Gift of Andy Sylvester, VAG 2004.32.1

with Afuwa, Emily Dundas Oke, Jónína Kirton and Michelle Sylliboy
Thursday, October 29 |  4 PM


Stay home. Stay safe. Stay connected with our series of online gatherings, Art Connects!

As we continue to live our lives in distance, the Vancouver Art Gallery is pleased to welcome back Indigenous Brilliance for their Fall Reading Session, a poetic and artistic response to the exhibition Uncommon Language. Invited poets Afuwa, Jónína Kirton and Michelle Sylliboy join Emily Dundas Oke to respond to the Eurocentric promise—and presumption—of a single overarching artistic language and instead offer decidedly relational and specific expressions.

Organized by Room Magazine and Massy Books, Indigenous Brilliance is a quarterly reading and performance series dedicated to raising the voices of Indigenous women, Two-Spirit and queer writers, artists and storytellers. It is a collective approach to realizing resurgence, a coming together with the shared desire of celebrating Indigenous stories and the different ways we think, share and perform.

The Vancouver Art Gallery is situated on traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-waututh) Nations, and is respectful of the Indigenous stewards of the land it occupies, whose rich cultures are fundamental to artistic life in Vancouver and to the work of the Gallery. Indigenous Brilliance, Massy Books and Room Magazine also acknowledge that this event takes place across Turtle Island.

Did you catch Indigenous Brilliance’s Spring Reading Session on Art Connects? Watch now »

Questions? Submit them during the Zoom presentation using the Q&A function. You can also engage with your fellow attendees and panelists during the event using the Chat function.

New to Zoom? Learn how to register and attend a webinar here »


Afuwa was born in Guyana, on Karinya and Akawaio lands; she makes art on Tsleil-Waututh, Musqueam and Squamish territories. Her work encompasses language, the body and diasporic memory. She was the 2013 Visiting Artist at UBC’s Liu Institute for Global Issues. Her text and images have been featured online and in publications including The Capilano Review, The Feminist Wire, Briarpatch, West Coast Line, subTerrain and in Beauchesne & Santos’ Performing Utopias in the Contemporary Americas (Palgrave Macmillan 2017). Current projects re-imagine relations across the Atlantic diaspora.

Jónína Kirton is a Red River Métis/Icelandic poet and a graduate of the Simon Fraser University’s Writer’s Studio, where she is currently their BIPOC Auntie and supports and mentors BIPOC students. A late-blooming poet, she was sixty-one when she received the 2016 City of Vancouver’s Mayor’s Arts Award for an Emerging Artist in the Literary Arts category. Her first collection of poetry, page as bone ~ ink as blood, was released with Talonbooks in 2015. Joanne Arnott described this collection as “restorative, intimate poetry, drawing down ancestral ideas into the current moments breath.” Her second collection, An Honest Woman, was released in 2018, again with Talonbooks. It was a finalist for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize. Betsy Warland had this to say about An Honest Woman: “Kirton picks over how she was raised familially and culturally like a crime scene.” Kirton is currently working on her third book, Standing in the Doorway, which explores the feelings of displacement that can come with being a mixed blood and all that has sustained her as she made her way in the world.

Award winning author and Interdisciplinary artist Michelle Sylliboy (Mi’kmaq/L’nu) was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and raised on her traditional L’nuk territory in We’koqmaq, Cape Breton. While living on the traditional, unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations, Sylliboy completed a BFA at Emily Carr University of Art + Design and a Master’s degree in Education from Simon Fraser University. She is currently a PhD candidate in Simon Fraser University’s Philosophy of Education program, where she is working to reclaim her original written komqwej’wikasikl language. Her collection of photography and L’nuk hieroglyphic poetry, Kiskajeyi—I Am Ready, was published by Rebel Mountain Press in 2019, and is now available as an ebook. She was recently appointed as new tenure track faculty in the Education, Modern Language and Fine Arts departments at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia.

Emily Dundas Oke is an interdisciplinary artist and curator. She is the recipient of numerous grants and awards, and she has exhibited nationally and internationally. She was artist in residence at the Nida Art Colony (2019) and Access Gallery (2020), among others. She is currently the Arts Editor at the Capilano Review and Curator at Massy Arts Society.


Generously supported by:

Jane Irwin and Ross Hill

Community Partners