Terre Chartrand

An Appeal to Mishibijiw

Artist Statement

Copper has long been known by the Anishinaabe as an antimicrobial metal. In just a couple hours, it kills all virus including COVID-19. This mask started as a tribute to this ancestral knowledge. It's ornamental, it doesn't seal so it isn't a practical mask but saw it's creation to honour copper and all of its sacred and healing properties.

As it was being shaped and wrought from the metal the form became unmistakably similar to panther or lynx like face. My lack of access to tools forced the devising of its form through process. The copper was annealed on my charcoal grill and pounded with an average ball peen hammer.

Because I didn't possess the necessary tools to solder copper, and access scant and difficult due to shut downs, I punched holes to attach the wrap around wires that hold the mask to my face. The panther like appearance completely emerged and I saw what I recognised as Mishibijiw, the underwater panther. Mishibijiw is a great spirit of the Anishinaabe of Great Lakes, bringer of death and destruction, guardian of copper but also bringer of great medicine. Mishibijiw can live in any waterway: the large lakes, especially Huron and Superior where there are troves of copper, but also in small lakes and rivers. Offerings are given for safe passage and the removal of copper. But as a cat like being, Mishibijiw makes his own decisions of who lives and who dies through his own capricious interventions.
So I finished the mask with horns woven with wire and whiskers of the same material.

It's called An Appeal to Mishibijiw and it's an appeal for safe passage through these times and a show of gratitude for the material used, copper.

Terre Chartrand An Appeal to Mishibijiw

111 Bear Street, Banff, Alberta, T1L 1A3, Canada

T: 1 403 762 2291   

E: info [at] whyte.org

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The Whyte Museum gratefully acknowledges the support of The Peter and Catharine Whyte Foundation and the Alberta Foundation for the Arts

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