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‘Frybread as Fok’: Art exhibit centres being unapologetically Indigenous

Artist and Manager of Aboriginal Programs at Emily Carr University, Kajola Morewood, works on her "Inuit yoyo" ahead of Frybread as Fok exhibition. Perrin Grauer / Emily Carr University of Art + Design

A new exhibition, Frybread as Fok, highlights Indigenous joy and the power of coming together.

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“There’s a lot of hardship, and there’s a lot of trauma and a lot of these really heavy things that happen,” said Zoë Laycock co-curator of the exhibition on display at Emily Carr University.

“It was really about bringing to the forefront joy and the way frybread is a symbol of resilience and gathering. It’s honouring those hardships but seeing the exhibition, seeing Emily Carr, as a place to grow and a place to grow our community unapologetically.”

Laycock co-curated the exhibit with Aaron Rice, Vance Wright, Taylor Baptiste and Rylee Taje and said the idea for the name came from Rice.

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“You can’t really just make a batch of frybread for yourself, right? You’re going to have to share it,” they said. “Community is built around food so it speaks to building that community and building those connections and growing together within an institution that, historically, we had been excluded from.

Taylor Baptiste’s piece for the exhibit Frybread as Fok. The piece is titled ‘Wildfire Regalia’ and depicts firefighter turnout boots and gear, pine needles, sinew, rawhide. Perrin Grauer / Emily Carr University of Art + Design

Over 30 Indigenous artists have their work on display during Frybread As Fok which is the Aboriginal Gathering Place’s 2024 exhibition — including students, faculty, staff and alumni.

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“Everyone does amazing work, there’s a lot of different sculptural pieces and, a lot of mixed media work in this in this show,” said Laycock. “There’s everything from paintings to printmaking to video and all kinds of sculptural garments.

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“Lots of merging traditional material practices and contemporary material practices and, it’s really lively.”

Laycock says their favourite part of every year is seeing the work produced by students, staff and alumni.

“It really showcases the diversity that we have within the institution, sure. It’s at the Aboriginal [Gathering Place] but with everybody coming from different nations and different places and different programs, it’s really an incredible array of artworks.”
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The work of (from left to right) Lara Felsing, Vance Wright and Felsing again displayed in Frybread as Fok. Perrin Grauer / Emily Carr University of Art + Design

While celebrating joy, Laycock believes it’s their job as curators to continue to hold space for fellow Indigenous artists.

“It’s not the ’60s, ’70s, ’80 or ’90s anymore — we’ve had trailblazers in our communities, we’ve had like all these amazing people that have come before us,” they said. “Our role is being a trail maintainer, like the trail has been blazed.”

And that’s where they saw themselves in curating Frybread as Fok, being in their masters they’ve curated at Emily Carr before. “It’s taking a step back, like a big step back and letting new people take over and take those responsibilities and maintain the trail,” Laycock said.

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“I am so proud of the other curators, ” they added. “They’ve done an amazing job and really taken the the reins and everybody should come see.”

Frybread as Fok is on display until Feb. 15, 2024.


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