Renovations at Wanuskewin Heritage Park, just north of Saskatoon, were completed in early December.
Since completion, the heritage park has continued to host the artist-in-residence project. This edition of the project is called payēkwac, which translates to “In Solitude.”
It features local Indigenous visual artist Curtis Peeteetuce, an award-winning performer and playwright from the Beardy’s and Okemasis First Nation near Duke Lake, Sask. He is the third guest for the project.
Peeteetuce is best known for his Rez Christmas series through the Gordon Tootoosis Nikaniwin Theatre.
He has been living in the designated space at Wanuskewin since Dec. 7.
Peeteetuce says the first set of lockdowns due to COVID-19 caused him to pick up a paintbrush for the first time in roughly two decades. It was the perfect way to get familiar with the advances in technology and apply them to the creative process in art and his work.
“It’s more than just a painting nowadays, writing a song, a play, beading or sketching,” Peeteetuce said. “We have to be involved with each other in the virtual world in order to create work for ourselves and to share our forms of expression.”
Wanuskewin’s director of development, Tara Janzen, says this is an opportunity for Peeteetuce to be creative through the pandemic as many people look for silver linings.
“His focus has been on positive expression and how we can work within these constraints and uncertainty to create things that are beautiful,” Janzen said.
Peeteetuce says quarantine becoming a part of everyday life gave him the idea for his project.
“I wanted to take that and turn it into an artistic project,” said Peeteetuce. “That’s why I am here for 14 days.”
He says some of the things he is working on are digitizing his old-school vinyl record collection, adding some present-day flavour to his old paintings and learning the ins and outs of online platforms.
“I come out of this experience with new skill(s).”
Not only does Peeteetuce interact with other artists through streaming services such as Zoom and Facebook Live, but visitors also have the chance to interact with him and check out his work.
The experience for visitors is aimed at giving them a taste of both the past and present.
“Our hope is that visitors can come to the park and learn about the history from 6,400 years ago,” Janzen said. “See the contemporary modern in today’s expression of interacting with the land.”
Peeteetuce’s stay in residence concludes on Dec. 21.
“I hope to come out on the other end of this with more work and inspire others.”
All of Peeteetuce’s streaming sessions can be found on YouTube.