Gosse is a Newfoundland Mi’kmaq artist based in Stephenville; Glémaud is the owner of the gallery, a Canadian and a former prominent corporate and environmental lawyer who grew up in Montreal and Ottawa. He moved to Miami and opened Macaya Gallery — listed as one of the city’s 10 best art galleries by the Miami New Times last year — in 2014.
With a desire to showcase contemporary Canadian art, Glémaud began discussing the idea with officials from the local Canadian embassy.
“When I saw the U.S. elections and how more Americans were viewing Canada as a beacon of tolerance and so on, I felt it was even more reason to do the show, showcasing the diversity of Canada from First Nations to new immigrants and being as inclusive as possible,” Glémaud told The Telegram.
To that end, he secured funding from the Canada 150 Fund and acquired sponsors like Air Canada and RBC, and set to work curating the “Made in Canada 150” show. Open as of today but officially launched March 9, the exhibit features work by 18 artists from across Canada, including Gosse.
“I absolutely wanted to have an aboriginal aspect to it, because they are the First Nations of Canada and I think they are not properly represented in contemporary art, plus I wanted to bring something novel to Miami,” Glémaud said.
Gosse is a member of the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Band, who has travelled and taught in a variety of First Nations communities
across the country. He’s known for his use of Mi’kmaq motifs, petroglyphs and hieroglyphs in his work, particularly the
eight-pointed Mi’kmaq star, representing the eight districts of the Mi’kmaq nation in North America.
His work is heavily based in the natural — landscapes, seascapes and animals — and the cultural, and he often fuses contemporary and traditional elements.
Some of his most popular pieces are plays on Andy Warhol’s “Campbell’s Soup Cans,” executed with a Mi’kmaq twist.
Instead of the regular Campbell’s flavours, Gosse chooses traditional soups like rabbit, moose, and caribou.
Gosse’s Warhol homage stretches beyond the canvas into sculpture, with a collection of birch bark-covered cans painted Campbell’s style.
Warhol is extremely popular in contemporary work in the United States, Glémaud said, and he’s looking forward to seeing locals’ reception to Gosse’s work.
“People look at the soup collection and they think it’s just pop art, but the reason I created it is metaphorical,” Gosse, who is represented in St. John’s by the Leyton Gallery of Fine Art, said.
“When native people hunt or fish, they use everything; they don’t waste any part of the animal. They preserve it. They bottle it. We also want to preserve our culture, and there’s a lot to it — we’re not condensed like Campbell’s soup to certain themes and topics. We’re trying to keep the spirit of native culture alive in Newfoundland and Labrador and throughout the world.”
Moved by the spirit
Eleven of Gosse’s pieces will be on display in the “Made in Canada 150” show, including several soup pieces; “Family,” featuring a pair of petroglyph whales encircling a Mi’kmaq star; and a series of pieces in a collection called “My Spiritual Journey: Haida Gwaii to The Rock.” Gosse spent time on the north coast of British Columbia and was inspired by the aboriginal artwork he saw there to create the collection.
“The reason I put those pieces in the show is because they’re from a time when I had an artistic epiphany,” Gosse explained. “Although I was inspired by Ojibway art and Cree art and Haida art, I felt like I needed to do my own from my own culture. I felt I needed to learn about it and all the elements of it.
“What I’m taking to America is all my influences and all my teaching experiences.”
Glémaud said many themes in traditional aboriginal art, including First Nations, African and Australian, are relevant in a contemporary setting, particularly when it comes to nature.
“Even if it’s something that’s been done for thousands and thousands of years, there’s still a freshness to it that exists right now,” he explained.
Gosse, who said he’s thrilled to take part in the Miami exhibit, is excited to present his art — and his message — to another part of the world.
“It’s a great privilege. I’m able to show the unique aspects of our culture and let them know we are trying to preserve it,” he said.
“I’m proud to be Mi’kmaq and I want to show off the beauty of our culture.”