For Rocks, Stones, and Dust, Bonnie Devine has created a new installation consisting of a chunk of gneiss, 92 hardwood stakes draped in muslin, and a sample of uranium.
The gneiss is from Serpent River First Nation in Ontario, near the site of a demolished sulphuric acid plant, where raw ore from nearby uranium mines was smelted in the 1950s and 1960s. The 92 (the atomic number of uranium) hardwood stakes were pulled from land near the Humber River (which flows into Lake Ontario), where they were part of an earlier installation by the artist. The uranium sample is in a state of active decay, or radioactive cascade, which is a chained series of transformations during which the parent isotope, uranium, emits particles as it decays into its daughter isotope, thorium. Phenomenology provokes an embodied relation with—and perception of—our surroundings to assist our understanding and respect for that which can’t be seen.
Bonnie Devine is a member of Serpent River First Nation, Genaabaajing, Anishinaabe Ojibwa territory on the north shore of Lake Huron in central Ontario. She is a sculptor, painter, curator, writer, and educator whose work emerges from the storytelling and image-making traditions that are central to Anishinaabe culture. Formally educated in sculpture and installation art at the Ontario College of Art and Design and York University, she says her most enduring learning came from her parents and grandparents, particularly her grandmother, Maggie Meawasige.
Devine is an Associate Professor at OCAD University in Toronto. She is the Founding Chair of OCAD U’s Indigenous Visual Culture program. Her sculpture, installation, video, and curatorial projects have been exhibited in solo and group film festivals and exhibitions in Canada, the USA, South America, Russia, Europe, and China and have been recognized internationally in several awards, including an Eiteljorg Fellowship of contemporary Native American Art in 2011.