Terrance Houle

15 September – 5 December 2010

Opening Reception and Performance by Terrance Houle: Wednesday, September 15, 6 – 9 pm

Give’r: (verb) Canadian, particular to rural areas especially in the western provinces, meaning:

1. to work very hard.

2. to get wasted and rock as hard as possible.

3. to finish a job or task in an efficient and quick manner.

AGYU is givn’r this fall with a rockin’ survey of the past five years of work in film, video, performance, and photography by Calgary artist Terrance Houle. The exhibition also includes a recent installation inspired by his father’s experiences. Houle’s father spent the first part of his life on the Sandy Bay Reservation, Manitoba. Attending Residential School during the day, Vern Houle spent the rest of his time learning the traditions of the Salteaux (Ojibway) First Nations People. Joining the Canadian Armed Forces at a time when Aboriginal men were not predominant in the service, he travelled across Canada, Europe, and the Middle East, writing to his mother weekly. Offering insight into a young Native man’s journey and relationship with his Ojibway mother, this work speaks of home, connection, place, and time.

While the main works in the exhibition reflect the humour and DIY approach to art making that Houle is most known for (Urban Indian Series, Pitchin’ Tipis, Landscape, The Wagon Burner, for example), the recent installation points to a new direction for the artist’s work that highlights the specific ceremonies, traditions, and historical events of First Nations People in Canada such as Indian Leg Wrestling, Indian Sign Language, and All for You, a project made in collaboration with First Nations people who grew up with the effects of the Residential School System. Houle’s works continue to engage his Aboriginal and non-aboriginal viewers in accessible and participatory ways, allowing them, in the words of the artist, “to let go and say what they want — like good punk rock!”

Terrance Houle’s examinations of cultural identity, alienation, assimilation, and Hollywood stereotypes are intended to provoke. Houle’s extensive body of work ranges from painting to drawing, video/film, mixed media, new media, performance, and installation — often utilizing tools of mass dissemination such as billboards and vinyl bus signage.

The exhibition at the Art Gallery of York University features a specifically commissioned performance in conjunction with the exhibition opening. An exhibition catalogue, the first on the artist, will also be launched during the exhibition.  The publication is co-produced and -published by the Art Gallery of York University, Toronto, and Plug In Institute for Contemporary Art, Winnipeg, and features essays by Emelie Chhangur, William Richard Hill, and Anthony Kiendl.

Houle’s artwork has been shown across Canada, the USA, Europe, and in Australia. His short video and film works have been shown internationally, winning Best Experimental Film at Toronto’s 2004 ImagineNATIVE Film Festival, and screening in New York City at the 2006 Native American Film Festival, Museum of American Indian. In 2006, Terrance was awarded the Enbridge Emerging Artist Award at the City of Calgary Mayor’s Luncheon.

Involved with Aboriginal communities all his life, he has traveled to reservations across North America, participating in Powwow dancing and other Native ceremonies. He lives and maintains his art practice and Aboriginal Youth Mentorship in Calgary, Canada.

Exhibition and tour organized by

Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art, Winnipeg

Curated by Anthony Kiendl

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