Open Channels Art Exhibition

Open Channels presents the works of visual artists who took part in the Canada C3 sailing expedition organized for the 150th anniversary of Confederation, in 2017. Aboard the MV Polar Prince, they drew inspiration from Canada’s ever-evolving environmental, social and cultural landscapes, as well as from dialogue between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. Here we present the digital version of the Open Channels Art Exhibition.

The artists whose works are presented in this exhibition are Lizzie Ittinuar, Sarni Pootoogook, Deanna Bailey, Soheila Esfahani, Christine Fitzgerald, Anna Gaby-Trotz, Phil Irish, Benjamin Kikkert, Paula Murray, Dominique Normand, Geoff Phillips, Francine Potvin, Leslie Reid, Rachel Rozanski and Véronique Tifo.

We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts and the Power Corporation of Canada

Christine Fitzgerald holds degrees from Acadia and Dalhousie Universities, and studied at the School of the Photographic Arts: Ottawa. Her images are produced intuitively, often using large format cameras and antique lenses, integrating historical photographic printing processes with modern technology. Christine has won numerous awards, including the 2016 International Fine Art Photographer of the Year from the Lucie Foundation in New York City and a 2017 International Julia Margaret Cameron award. Christine Fitzgerald was a participant on Leg 2 (Montreal – Baie-Comeau) of the Canada C3 Expedition.

“During Leg 2, Kaniehtì:io and I became friends. She opened my eyes to the truths about our past. We discussed creating her portrait, and eventually portraits of her mother and sisters, all from Kahnawake, a Kanien’keha (Mohawk) reserve south of Montréal. In her writings, her sister Kahente  refers to otiyaner , the clan mother who sets the path, and the centrality of powerful and resilient women in their culture. These portraits represent this spirit: Waneek, an Olympic athlete; Kaniehtì:io, an actress; Kahénte, an academic; Ojistoh, a physician; and Kahentinéhtha , their mother and an unrelenting fighter for her people’s rights. Her strong daughters are her greatest legacy.” Photo (c) Christine Fitzgerald

Acadia tánon’ Dalhousie Tsi Ionterihwaienstahkhwa’kó:wa teiotohétston. School of the
Photographic Arts ne Kanà:tso ó:ni’ ioterihwaiensta’nónhne. Tetsá:ron ne
orihwakaion’néha tánon’ asé’stsi iontatia’tarahkhwa’ aowenhshòn:’a iótston tsi
iorahstánion. Tohkára nikentióhkwake tekonwarénhsaron tsi karáhstha’ ne Christine –
2016 shiiohseratátie’, Lucie Foundation ne Kanón:no tekonwarénhsaron, International
Fine Arts Photographer of the Year wa’konwanà:ton’. Sok ki’ ne 2017 shiiohseratátie’,
International Julia Margaret Cameron ó:ni’ wa’tkonwarénhsaron’. Tiohtià:ke tsi niió:re Baie Comeau, Tianontarí:kon Tsi Ionhóntsaien.

“Tsi nikarì:wes ne Leg 2, ì:’i tánon’ Kaniehtí:io wa’ontiátshi’ne’. Wa’onke’néhsten’ ne
tó:kenske tsi niiawénhseron. Tho shontakahá:wi wa’akenihthá:rahkwe’ ne akheià:taren’
ne akaónha tánon’ o’nisténha tánon’ kontate’ken’okòn:’a. Akwé:kon Kahnawà:ke
tionatehiahròn:’on (entiè:ke nonkwá:ti ne Tiohtià:ke thonatená:taien) tánon’
Kanien’kehá:ka na’kontiia’tò:ten’. Kaniehtí:io iakohiá:ton tsi ohtsì:’a Kahén:te’ iothró:ri
tsi otiiá:ner kontiia’takwe’ní:io tsi nonkwá:ti ne tsi nihotirihò:ten’. Kí:ken wakerahstánion
tewate’nienténhston ne aonatónhnhets. – Waneek, Olympics nón:we teiotkénnion;
Kaniehtí:io, teiontierónnions; Kahén:te’, iothiatonhseraweiénston; Ojistoh, Watétsen’ts;
tánon’ Kahentinéhtha’, ioti’nisténha tánon’ wahskéhnhas ne onkwehón:we
raotiianerenhsera’shòn:’a. Akoien’okòn:’a kontihá:wi ne ao’shatsténhsera’.”

Soheila Esfahani grew up in Tehran, Iran, and moved to Waterloo, Canada, in the summer of 1992, the year of the 125th anniversary of Confederation. She is an award-winning visual artist and recipient of numerous grants. Her art has been exhibited across Canada from Vancouver to Halifax and collected by various public and private institutions, including the Canada Council’s Art Bank. Soheila’s art practice explores how cultures can be transformed and translated through installations that play on the literal and metaphorical meanings of “translation.” Soheila Esfahani was a participant on Leg 4 (Charlottetown, PE – St. John’s, NL) of the Canada C3 Expedition.

“My art practice explores migration and cultural translation, in particular, ornamentation as a form of “portable culture” that can be adapted to new contexts. In this body of work, I gathered these  traces during Leg 4 of the journey in the form of collectible objects from souvenir shops, and laser-etched them with an arabesque design from the city of Isfahan in Iran, the home of my ancestors. As viewers consider these constructions, their own culture intersects with the works on view.”  Photo (c) Laura O’Grady


Dominique Normand gives visual form to omnipresent powers that shape the world of human experience in the Northern territories. She discovered her paternal Mi’kmaq and Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet) heritage as an adult and, enriched by her own experience with the Cree people of James Bay, explores the entwined harmony of all our relations, a traveller bearing a camera, armed with a brush. The sum of these encounters and the teachings she has received constitute a reservoir of powerful inspiration for her creation. Dominique Normand was a participant on Leg 5 (St. John’s – Nain, NL) of the Canada C3 Expedition.

“In my work, I explore notions of identity, memory and territoriality. The Canada C3 experience spurred a flood of observations and an aspiration to express a poetic interpretation of the places visited. In listening to the First Nations and Inuit community participants during the journey, I have deepened my understanding of the hidden face of Canada’s history. Through my work, I reflect on these crucial issues to express the North as both a spatial and spiritual territory.”  Photo (c) Dominique Normand.


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Francine Potvin is a visual artist, teacher, plant aficionado, fervent gardener, and the mother of three young men. She works principally in ceramics, drawing, printmaking and the cyanotype. She has been teaching ceramics at Concordia University n Montréal since 1993. Over the last thirty years, she has expressed the anima mundi in botanical and bestiary images rooted in her reverence and enchantment for native life forms and the sacred interconnectedness of all things. Francine Potvin was a participant on Leg 6 (Nain, NL – Iqaluit, NU) of the Canada C3 Expedition.

“These works were made using algae and vegetable matter that I brought back from Leg 6 of the expedition. During the journey, I heard the thousandfold voices of the natural world and I saw the oldest mountains on earth, rivers, icebergs and sea. I saw the peregrine falcon and the polar bear. I sensed profound sorrow in the voices of Inuit dealing with the legacy of the residential school system. We, Homo sapiens, need a new sense of what it means to be human in our relationships to each other, and to the interconnected world in which we live.” Photo (c) Francine Potvin


Phil Irish is based in Elora and teaches studio art at Redeemer University College, in Ancaster, Ontario. He earned an MFA at York University and is a recipient of the Kingston Prize. Phil’s multimedia work spanning watercolour, painting, photography, collage and sculpture explores environmental themes. He is currently working on images based on his Canada C3 experience, focusing on the shifting forms of icebergs and glaciers. Phil Irish was a participant on Leg 7 (Iqaluit – Qikiqtarjuaq, NU) of the Canada C3 Expedition.

“Images of icebergs usually convey a sense of grandeur and timelessness: they look so beautiful, poised, architectural. This belies the fact that actual ice is always moving, expanding, flowing, calving, or melting. This collage work is my first kinetic painting. Experimenting with movement opens up new possibilities for meaning, and the painting’s relationship to our bodies. The Arctic I witnessed aboard the Polar Prince is warming, and we are saying goodbye to the ice as we know it.” Photo (c) Phil Irish taken at the Âjagemô art space at the Canada Council for the Arts.


The Âjagemô art space at the Canada Council for the Arts, Photo (c) Martin Lipman/SOI Foundation
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Paula Murray is an award-winning ceramic artist from Meech Lake, Quebec. The heart of her practice is about transformation. Interested in the common ground between human nature and the nature of reality , she is drawn to how ceramic materials and processes have affinities with the human condition. Exhibiting extensively within Canada and abroad, her work is held in museum collections in Italy, Korea, Taiwan, China, Romania, England and Canada. She was recently inducted into the International Academy of Ceramics. Paula Murray was a participant on Leg 8 (Qikiqtarjuaq – Pond Inlet, NU) of the Canada C3 Expedition.

“While in Nunavut, the importance of listening rang true; to the land, to each other, to ourselves. Our level of consciousness limits what we hear. These porcelain forms—referencing animal horns traditionally used as hearing aids— challenge us. Do we need to shout to be heard? Are we hard of hearing? Are we talking past each other? How do we reach our hearts? Only then can we respond to the Calls  to Action cited in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report .” Photo (c) Paula Murray


Leslie Reid was born in Ottawa, where her engagement with the land took root. She studied at Queen’s University, Kingston, and continued her studies in England. On her return to Canada, she taught visual arts at the University of Ottawa. She has had solo exhibitions in Canada, England, France and the United States; her work can be found in the collections of major Canadian museums. Throughout her practice, Leslie been engaged in a very personal exploration of the tenuous perception of self in relation to both sensory and emotional locations in the world. Leslie Reid was a participant on Leg 9 (Pond Inlet – Cambridge Bay, NU) of the Canada C3 Expedition.

“Uluriak was recorded with Uluriak Amarualik while we were participants with the Canada C3 expedition through the Northwest Passage. In this video, Uluriak speaks of her experiences as a young Inuk woman in Resolute, Nunavut. She is the granddaughter of Inuit relocated to Resolute from the communities, vastly separated by culture and by distance, of Inukjuak, Quebec and Pond Inlet, Nunavut, in the High Arctic Relocation of 1953-55. She speaks of her life as a young girl in Resolute, of her time as a Canadian Ranger – military reservists in the North – and of the continuing effects on family and community of the Relocation.”


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Rachel Rozanski studied visual arts at Emily Carr University, Capilano and Langara, making research-based drawings and digital prints. Her work centres on the dramatic rate of biological, geological and material transformations occurring as we enter the Anthropocene. She has exhibited across Canada and abroad, showing works that explore how scientific concepts can be visualized to build new translations. Rachel Rozanski was a participant on Leg 10 (Cambridge Bay – Kugluktuk, NU) of the Canada C3 Expedition.

“In my formal training as an artist, I have considered the imagination as an ecological force and collected unidentifiable objects made or morphed by human civilization. I have also been inspired by the study of local ecology, pollutants, adaptations and extinctions during the course of artist residencies in Nunavut and Iceland. In my current studio practice, I focus on how these elements are magnified in the North, an environment experiencing rapid change with long-term effects.” Photo (c) Rachel Rozanski


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Benjamin Kikkert is an artist and designer working in hot glass and mixed media sculpture. He is a graduate of the Sheridan College Craft and Design Program and a former resident of the Harbourfront Centre Craft and Design Studio. He was awarded the RBC Glass Award in 2012 and serves as the president of the Glass Art Association of Canada. His studio, Vancouver Studio Glass, is located on Granville Island, in Vancouver. Benjamin Kikkert was a participant on Leg 11 (Kugluktuk, NU – Tuktoyaktuk, NT) of the Canada C3 Expedition.

“The title Copper River Fracture refers to the dual forces of disruption for people of the North and their land. There is no work that I can create as an artist, and as a southern Canadian, to adequately express the grief I feel as my awareness of this devastation grows. This work distills glimmers of what I saw in the moments during my visit. The Inuit see the landscape as collective experience; I feel it is the time for the rest of Canada to recognize the wisdom of this perspective.”  Photo (c) Benjamin Kikkert



The Âjagemô art space at the Canada Council for the Arts, Photo (c) Martin Lipman/SOI Foundation

Originally from Montréal, Véronique Tifo studied museology, which fostered her interest for traditional artistic mediums. With a bachelor’s degree in painting and drawing from Concordia University and a university diploma in art therapy, she pursued a career as an artist and, in 2005, founded Ŭtĕrum, École de peinture actuelle in Montréal. She worked at Inuvik’s Great Northern Arts Festival and participated in philanthropic arts projects. She now holds a master’s degree in visual and media arts from the Université du Québec à Montréal and works for the Musée d’art contemporain des Laurentides. Véronique Tifo was a participant on Leg 12 (Tuktoyaktuk, NT – Prince Rupert, BC) of the Canada C3 Expedition.

“My work breaks away from intellectualism in favour of embracing a more intuitive and spiritual approach. My paintings are a journey into the inner self—poetry paintings inspired by the area I’m in. As part of my trip with Canada C3, I was inspired by the narrative aspect of the qimiqrunguaq (Inuit drawings) and the landscapes of the Far North, which are like an aura that enfolds its ancestors. This triptych alludes to the transmission of Indigenous history and the strong ties among its generations.” Photo (c) Véronique Tifo


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Deanna (Dee) Bailey completed fine art and biology studies in Alberta and moved to the Yukon in 2010. She is interested in pushing the boundaries of 2D art and attempting to make paintings more sculptural. She has been painting with modeling clay. Deanna is a member of the Yukon Artists at Work cooperative. One of her main goals is to place nature at the forefront to encourage people to consider environmental stewardship. Deanna Bailey was a participant on Leg 13 (Prince Rupert – Bella Bella BC) of the Canada C3 Expedition.

“I explore the fusion of sculpture and painting by creating representational images using oil-based modelling clay, and presenting these as objects in protective shadow boxes. My sculptural paintings invite viewers to look closely and to connect to their own experiences of the outdoors. Through my work, I strive to rekindle that awe for our natural surroundings and promote conversations about how we can work collectively to care for our land, animals and wilderness.

These rocky beaches represent feelings experienced while learning from the Haida Nation. I think of each stone as unique with it’s own personal story, like so many of the people we met. By standing together we can support one another and celebrate our differences, we can work together towards common goals.” Photo (c) Art Bank


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Geoff Phillips is a graduate of the BFA program at the University of Regina and is now based in Maple Creek, Sask. He has been an artist in residence at the Canadian Film Centre’s Habitat New Media Lab and directs the art programme as artist in residence for park visitors and residents of Southwest Saskatchewan at Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park. Geoff has also created large-scale murals for several public commissions. Geoff Phillips was a participant on Leg 14 (Bella Bella – Campbell River, BC) of the Canada C3 Expedition.

“During Leg 14 of the journey along the West Coast of British Columbia, I painted both landscapes and portraits directly on canvas. I visited the abandoned fish cannery near the Heiltsuk village of Namu with our host, Chief Harvey Humchitt. He described to me his emotional upheaval regarding this sacred land, where his ancestors have been buried for millennia: the cannery site was the site of large-scale commercial fish processing operations and is now considered an ecological disaster, with responsibility for its cleanup left with the Heiltsuk people.” Photo (c) Martin Lipman/SOI Foundation


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Anna Gaby-Trotz is a printmaker and photographer, and the technical director of Open Studio in Toronto. Her work has taken her to places such as the Northwest Passage, the Nahanni River and most recently to Cape Dorset, Nunavut. Anna explores social issues through her portrait work and recently worked as a photographer on a project called Be Our Ally, where she partnered with rural youth examining issues of homophobia. Anna Gaby-Trotz was a participant on Leg 15 (Campbell River – Victoria, BC) of the Canada C3 Expedition.

“To settle is to stay in one place. My family is a mixture of European settlers. I joined Canada C3 on the final leg of the journey. I saw each point along the route as being both connected and separated by borders, seen and unseen. I have tried to walk gently through these. Listening was a strong theme. This journey goes beyond the discomfort of Canada defined as one nation at 150 years, toward a concept of Canada 150+. It is about looking at the same historical mistakes made over and over again. It is about the hope for a future involving many nations working on the difficult issue of reconciliation and with work yet to do.”  Photo (c) Anna Gaby-Trotz

The Âjagemô art space at the Canada Council for the Arts, Photo (c) Martin Lipman/SOI Foundation
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Textile artist Lizzie Ittinuar, based in Kangiqliniq (Rankin Inlet), portrays her community through the meeting of two visual languages: traditional Inuit forms and syllabics conflated with aerial or satellite imaging systems. Around the perimeter of the map are beaded and felted images of local people, flora and fauna, the Nunavut flag and the Inuktitut title of the work. The central black felt panel composed of reflective coloured and silver beads portrays a nighttime view of the hamlet, an arrangement of streets and buildings as a coastal topography, as if seen from a passing plane. The map is geographically accurate as a pattern delineated according to cartographic practices. However, it requires the living forms of people and culture in the surrounding border that represent the experience of living there. Photo (c) Art Bank



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Sarni Pootoogook was among the early graphic artists working in the Cape Dorset printmaking program. Through the various legends of Sedna, two recurring motifs are relevant here: the presence of the bird as a companion or kidnapper, and the punishment of Sedna by her father, by chopping off her fingers, after which she metamorphosizes into a seal. In this work made shortly before her death, Sarni portrays the dual realms of supernatural and terrestrial life as gentle companions who flow alongside each other. Photo (c) Martin Lipman/SOI Foundation

Open Channels digital art exhibition is made possible with support from the following:

Peter J Poole and the Edmonton Community Foundation