One year later – Reflections by Dominique Normand

Dominique Normand is a Métis artist of Maliseet descent from the Laurentians. Enriched by her own experience since 2008 amongst the James Bay Cree communities and on the land, she becomes a witness to the entwined harmony of all our relations, a spokeswoman bearing a camera, armed with a brush. Here she explains in her own words and through her ‘Fogo Series’ how leg 5 of Canada C3 influenced her art practice.

There is so much to say about the Canada C3 experience. It was a human project, a monumental project, and a transformative one.

It took me some time to understand and appreciate the effects that the expedition had on my life, both as an artist and a human being. The answers came through my work, one canvas at a time, revealing secrets I wasn’t even aware of yet: grief, sadness, wonder, exasperation, anger, compassion, and more. In French, the word connaissance (knowledge) means being born anew thanks to new learning.

(c) Jackie Dives/SOI Foundation

The Canada C3 experience awoke in me a flood of observations and a desire to bring back the poetry of the places we visited. The echoes of the stories I heard when meeting Aboriginal participants and members of Inuit communities led me to question and become aware of the hidden face of Canadian history. Our conversations shed light on deficiencies and injustices in the experiences of First Nations. They made me want to facilitate solutions to bring these considerations to the forefront.

“Drowning on Land” by Dominique Normand

I feel privileged to have explored the country’s coasts, just like the first European explorers, and to have been so warmly welcomed by people living along the coast. I cannot imagine a better way to experience the drama and nature of the circumstances.

Under the horizon line, in the world below, the memory and traces of our journey stir in the form of bio-luminescent arabesques as underwater beings move through the depths, latching on to expanses of shimmering ice diamonds, absorbing snippets of emotional stories. The sea, the coast, the wind, they remember.

“The Underworld” by Dominique Normand

“Contact” by Dominique Normand

“Icebears” by Dominique Normand

Ice melts. Icebergs parade before us and topple apart before our stunned eyes. It’s a paradox, so much beauty and drama in conflict.

It took me six long months of incubation to show my first preliminary studies and finally imbue the work with my final reflections and realizations from this expedition, which had a remarkable impact on my life.

My 27 paintings express contrasts and realizations. My goal for this project was to unveil the hidden face of the world below. Just as we only see the tip of an iceberg, I wanted to submerge myself under the horizon of established ideas to better capture their totality. In the wake of the Fogo Series project, I created an imaginary space where the possible realities that float between two worlds face one another.

This new collection also expresses my gratitude for the opportunity to create connections with Northern peoples, who welcomed us with generosity and pride. What’s more, it enables better understanding of environmental issues and the incomparable beauty of the Canadian North.

“Connection” by Dominique Normand

The work juxtaposes the contrasts, the revelations, and the unknown uncovered by my imagination. It showcases what’s on the other side of things, what is discovered through encounter and curiosity. It is a bridge towards understanding the other, a pathway to the unknown.

Shedding light on deficiencies and injustices in the experiences of First Nations, the conversations I had made me want to find solutions to denounce these grave problems. Expose the real history, break open the lies and pass the baton so that others can speak on the true realities of Aboriginal peoples across Canada.

As an artist, I am proud to have been part of the Canada C3 mission and to have educated Canadians through conferences, workshops, projects, training sessions, writings, art, and a robust communication plan.

I have been invited to take part in an art camp on Stradbroke Island near the city of Gold Coast, Australia. The camp is an artistic meeting place where 20 Aboriginal artists and mentors take part in various experimental and creative activities and discussions.

During this unique art residency opportunity, I hope to discover the new techniques proposed by the guest mentor artist, explore installation and performance art in a natural context, and benefit from exchange between indigenous artists to better understand their challenges, means of expression, values and customs, as well as the dynamics of those who face racism and exclusion in their daily lives. I will be able to share my C3 experience and use it to discuss our similarities and differences.

Learn more about Dominique Normand and her art on her website.