Video: Stages Speaker Series | Krista Belle Stewart

As part of the Stages Speaker Series, Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art presented a screening of Seraphine, Seraphine by Vancouver-based artist, Krista Belle Stewart followed by a discussion (audio here). This event marked the premiere presentation of Stewart’s 2014 film in Winnipeg. Using two channels, Seraphine, Seraphine moves between two temporal moments joined by a central figure, Stewart’s mother, Seraphine Stewart. In this presentationa 1967 docu-drama aired by the CBC conveying the story of the first Indigenous public health nurse in British Columbia is situated alongside excerpts of personal testimonial taken in Vancouver by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2013.

The constructed relationship between the films resonates with Stewart’s practice, which regularly makes precise and meaningful use of archival material and relies on juxtaposition to expose colonial erasure and foreground Indigenous identity. This screening comes at a poignant moment, in the wake of recent public remarks by Conservative Senator Lynn Beyak who spoke lamentingly about the absence of a celebratory attitude towards the “kindly and well-intentioned men and women and their descendants” who worked in residential schools. Stewart often draws from her family’s history to address social and political perspectives that have and continue to conceal the direct suppression of Indigenous cultures.

Krista Belle Stewart is known for her ability to draw out the complexities of archival material that allow for both intimacy, coincidence, and a temporal meeting of histories across time. Working with video, photography, design, ephemera and textiles, Stewart straddles the gaps between personal and institutional histories through transparent mediation. Her work has been exhibited at the Vancouver Art Gallery; Presentation House Gallery, North Vancouver; Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver; Mercer Union, Toronto; and the Esker Foundation, Calgary. Stewart holds an MFA from Bard College, New York. She is a member of the Upper Nicola Band of the Okanagan Nation and is currently based in Vancouver, BC.

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We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts New Chapter Fund, the Manitoba Arts Council and Winnipeg Arts Council. We thank the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts for their support of our 2016 and 2017 program, as well as Wawanesa Insurance for the direct support of our youth programs.