Garon also felt it necessary to localize elements of Gold Rush to DC to “[create] that connection for the people who live here, right now,” she explains. In abstract paintings “Resonance 1” and “Resonance 2,” she mixes DC tap water with soil and the ground pigment of the rock cores. Then, Garon manipulates the texture and color of the paintings using calcium hydroxide, a chemical often used in mining. The works are accompanied by a sound installation that again features music by Obomsawin.
Beyond her exhibition, the artist’s research and exploration of the historical, ecological, and cultural significance of mining are still ongoing. In Pembroke, Garon continues to partner with a team of earth scientists, geologists, the Wabanaki people, and local politicians to document the impact that mines have on people living on the land. “For the first time in my art career, I have played a more active role as a community artist [and] using art to bring people together,” she says.
In the near future, the artist hopes to expand her research internationally. Garon plans to travel to Australia to work with Indigenous communities impacted by corporate mining projects. Applying the methodology used to develop Gold Rush, the artist seeks to understand how “art has been involved and to see how the cores over there have been handled.”
While this project develops, Garon has opened a dialogue with the communities living in the vicinity of Big Hill to plan a repatriation ceremony for the artifacts included in Gold Rush. In a few years, the artist visualizes the orchestration of a “formal physical closure” so “the cores get placed where they should be.”
In Gold Rush, Garon seeks to “amplify not my voice, but the [voices] of the people directly involved with the mine and with the land,” she says. Juxtaposing the living history of Indigenous peoples residing near Big Hill against the financial stake of mining corporations, the artist sheds light on the pressing conversations surrounding competing claims to land and the commodification of the environment.
Stephanie Garon: Gold Rush
October 15—November 26, 2022
1353 U Street Northwest, Suite 101