October 14 – November 26, 2022
The Art Incubator Gallery
When my brother and I were little, we found a squirrel that had fallen and passed on in a bed of soft, uncut grass. The two of us cradled it and brought it inside the farmhouse, not sure what to do. Well intentioned, we laid it on our moshom’s placemat next to his coffee mug. Mom laughed warmly and said he may mistake it for a biscuit. She swaddled the squirrel and led us back outside where we buried it between lilac bushes, laying down medicine and saying a prayer.
I like to imagine this is where my mom and her siblings used to bury the little flies they collected from window ledges in the farm house, tucked neatly into tissue box resting places and walked out by funeral march to where the lilacs meet the birch trees.
you’ll always know is a series of careful acknowledgements recollecting memories shared between relatives on the land they grew from. It nods to place markers left between generations; where they played, grieved, gathered, where they kept fires, and parted ways between visits. Deeply based in Kiona’s own memories, the stories painted in these works weave between what is her’s, shared and witnessed, while leaving alone what feels private to her family.
The backdrop of her paintings stretch across the land scrip her moshom received after the enfranchisement of Michel First Nation. Kiona looks to multigenerational histories to contextualize the way she knows her home; her moshom was born up the hill from this land on what used to be the Michel reserve, and her mom, aunties, and uncles were born on land scrip, where Kiona would also grow up for a time. This became home to many relatives’ through their childhoods, and a soft landing to return to as they grew. It saw many farm dogs, cold Winters, hot Summers, and lilac blooms in the Spring. These paintings are a way for Kiona to honor those memories, knowing that she’ll never be alone in their inside jokes, and in the markers that make up the stories shared.
Kiona Callihoo Ligtvoet (she/her) is a multidisciplinary artist practicing in amiskwaciwâskahikan on Treaty 6 Territory. She grew up West of the city near the hamlet of Calahoo where she lived with her relatives on scrip land. Her family lines are Cree and Métis descending from Michel First Nation, as well as Dutch/ mixed European.
Kiona works in painting, printmaking, and drawing, recollecting personal stories of grief and tenderness. Her practice uses a non-linear telling of memories through narrative work as a form of diaristic archiving. It draws from feelings of loss and enfranchisement, but also from deep belly laughter, and a fondness for where the histories between herself and her family overlap and disperse.
Some recent exhibitions have been sahkitok mistahi at Ociciwan Contemporary Art Centre (2021), and her solo show These Are the Things at Latitude 53 (2021). She co-curated the soil between plants with Making Space (2022), and just finished her debut graphic novel We Were Younger Once (2022).
Working alongside other artists in initiatives of community care, Kiona co-organizes Making Space in partnership with Sanaa Humayun. She likes visiting her moshom on the farm, and gossiping with her mom, relatives, and friends on the prairies.
Top Image: Bury (detail), acrylic on canvas, 2020, 36 x 48 inch
Photo courtesy of Anica Neiman