Songide’ewin: A Yellow Brick Wall exhibit

Meshake is a Canadian artist who draws his inspirations from his Ojibwe culture. Photo by Jamaal Owusu-Ansah
Meshake is a Canadian artist who draws his inspirations from his Ojibwe culture. Photo by Jamaal Owusu-Ansah

Rene Meshake is the latest artist to have an exhibit featured on the Yellow Brick Wall, located right here on the Laurier campus. This exhibit is called Songide’ewin: Ojibwe Narratives Art Exhibit.

Meshake is a Canadian artist who draws his inspiration from his Ojibwe culture. He expresses himself through a myriad of art forms, including story-telling, poetry, and painting.

Drawing on his experience of surviving life in a residential school, Meshake exhibits 13 paintings in hopes of sharing his experiences with others. He writes about being silenced in his artist’s statements, reflecting on people in his past, “who told me that my Ojibwe arts and culture were ‘Pagan!’, ‘Dirty!’ and ‘Evil!’”

Songide’ewin is a cathartic way for Meshake to break through those feelings and express the culture he was taught to keep quiet through residential school.

Photo by Jamaal Owusu-Ansah
Photo by Jamaal Owusu-Ansah

Meshake described his painting style as, “alternative portraiture in a semi-abstract style”. His art is the perfect way to express the complex, confusing and overwhelming emotions that came with surviving life in a residential school.

Despite these paintings being created with an idea in mind, Meshake hopes that, like many other forms of art, people will interpret something different from his paintings. He says, “If you try to view all the paintings at once, they will appear the same or you don’t see anything at all. But, one painting among them will speak to you. And any story that you hear or interpret is valid.”

When describing his process, Meshake recalls, “I paint in a series of 10 or more paintings at once. Too many images crowd out or compete with each other if I did a single painting, so I do a series to edit the images.” His process helps him express all of his different emotions at one time, while also creating a connection between each individual painting, making them a perfect set for an exhibit.

As both a historical and artistic experience, Songide’ewin is an excellent way to get in touch with local art culture, support Canadian artists, and see work made by an artist whose paintings are honest, unique and breath-taking.

The exhibit can be viewed at the Yellow Brick Wall from March 1 until April 15 at 97 Dalhousie St.

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