Reflecting on The Gift Economy

The gift system was pioneered by anthropologist Marcher Mauss and Bronislaw Malinowski in the mid-1920s. Mauss taught us that social life involves a ‘gift,’ that is indisputable as a combination of labour and service that cannot be reduced to the calculation of contracts. Sociologist, Lewis Hyde draws from Mauss’ philosophy for his book The Gift: Creativity and the Artists in the Modern World. In this book, Hyde (2007) points out two types of economies: A commodity (or exchange) economy where status is accorded to those who have the most, and, a gift economy, where status is accorded to those who give the most to others. Hyde argues that a work of art is a gift, rather than a commodity and those artists are laboring in the service of his or her gifts. Hyde contends that Continue reading Reflecting on The Gift Economy

Art Talking with

This is terrific! In 2006, Bruce Everiss, a visual artist, founded—a virtual hub for social interaction for practising visual artists.

Bruce administers the site and brings together a diverse community of artists; including all genres, all media, all ages, all nationalities and all skill levels. Over 2,700 people of visual artists have joined the forum. Together they have made over 100,000 posts on every art related topic imaginable. Noteworthy, the site provides several sections where artists can post their own work (even as work-in-progress) and discuss it with other artists. Continue reading Art Talking with

Who is Kent Monkman?

Kent Monkman is a Canadian artist of Cree ancestry who works in a variety of media including painting, film/video, performance and installation. His father was Cree and his mother is English-Irish-Canadian. Thus, much of his work makes reference to the interplay between cultures. For the most part, his work reflects mythology and exploration that is rooted in his ancestral background.

Recently, I had the privilege to meet Kent Monkman and learn from one of his most recent works, “Miss America” (see picture in this post) which was outstanding. This particular piece is currently exhibited at the Pierre-François Ouellette Gallery in Toronto. What I found striking about his body of work, besides the superbly executed use of acrylics in proper academic manner, are the messages of his paintings. One is to reassert the cultural value of Aboriginal society. Second is the sense of fun; amid the glacial waters, mountains and arboretum, there is a drag queen referred as Miss Chief Eagle Testicle, as the center of attention, usually in heels and fashionable shoes! These images are not gratuitous—they are aimed to convey his third message, to raise important questions that have affected indigenous communities. The artist tackles eminent issues such as colonialism, consumerism and sexuality. In this sense, Monkman is more than a multimedia artist; he is an advocate, who through his canvases reclaims his ancestor’s rights.

Monkman’s body of work displays mastery in technicality, the use of colours, and symbolism. I highly recommend your taking the time to visit his work and to experience the power of the arts!

To learn more about indigenous people, I encourage you to read a recent article published in the Toronto Star regarding myths about the aboriginal community.