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L.A. Beat

Waking Death explores different perspectives of death and grieving in new casa exhibits

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Discussing death  doesn't have to be a scary or depressing experience. But get ready for Halloween anyway with a cornucopia of spooky activities beginning with Waking Death, a new group exhibit running at casa from Sept. 9-Oct. 28. The eight artists explore the concept of death and mourning in their works, which encompass First Nations and western perspectives on death and grief.


The Waking Death artists, David Garneau, Faye Heavyshield, Don Gill, Mary Kavanagh, Annie Martin, Bryce Singer, Kasia Sosnowski, and Adrian Stimson, utilized a variety of mediums for their contributions to the exhibit including acrylic paint, photography, sculpture and textile art which are in the main gallery.

Annie Martin, Mia Van Leeuwen, Shanell Papp  and Darcy Logan welcome people to new  exhibits at casa, Sept. 9. Photo By Richard Amery

Waking Dead member Don Gill has a wall dedicated to his photographs of actual death masks created from prisoners in Australia. Bryce Singer created a vividly coloured painting inspired by a dream he had about talking to a relative who passed on.


Local artist Shanell Papp is excited to see her 40-foot gigantic crocheted skeleton, which was on display in the casa in October 2020 come to life in a parade featuring University  of Lethbridge actors and alumni during the happening at casa  at 8 p.m. in the middle of the exhibit’s opening reception, Saturday, Sept. 9. The opening reception runs from 7-9 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 9.


“It’s going to be great,” said artist and co-curator Shanell Papp, who contributed a crocheted skull ossuary plus some other death themed pieces to the Passage gallery.


“I’m thankful casa keeps letting me exhibit. I’m hoping  other groups will be able to offer me a room some day,” she said, adding crocheting skulls and bones inspires different , more playful dialogue about death than other mediums.


“ There’s a different dialogue about death then if they were in a different medium like ceramics,” she said.

Her exhibit “Resting Place” is in the Passage Gallery.

U of L professor Mia Van Leeuwen who is currently on study leave, is excited about the University of Lethbridge participation in the Waking  Dead.

“ There really is something for everyone,” Van Leeuwen said, adding it is was important to include First Nations  perspectives in the exhibit

“People  tend to be afraid of discussing death. It is important to have these dialogues about it,,” said University of Lethbridge professor  and  and co-curator Annie Martin.

“ I’m excited it will be running right up to Halloween,” she continued.


 The exhibit is the result of a collaboration between Waking Death collective and the Allied Arts Council.


 In addition to the exhibit, there will be a variety of spooky seminars and screenings. 


 There will be  Art Now Talks at the University of Lethbridge at noon, on Sept. 11, and 15 and Oct. 4 a Waking Death Keynote with Rebecca Many Grey Horses at casa at 1 p.m.

 There will also be  crafts, dance demonstrations, cemetery tours and a Day of the Dead community program at Galt Museum. And there will be partnerships with the SAAG.

The schedule is available at the Waking Death website


Jacquie Beattie’s exhibit RePurposed Objects and ReInvented Panache is in the Focus Gallery. Another Blackfoot Artist, Trevor Kiitokii’s Stories, Songs and Dance of the Plains People is in the Saokitapi Gallery.

 Isabel Kelly Mourning Dove is in the Platform Project Space. Beck AS’s Broken&Released: Prelude to Active Recovery  is in the Concourse Gallery. The Textiles Guild provides Tall Tales in the Textile showcase.


 The Trianon  Gallery also opens  a new exhibit “ Convergence”  featuring work by  Edward Bader and Peter Greendale. That exhibit runs from Sept. 9 - Nov. 4. The opening reception is at 8:30 p.m. on Sept. 9.

— By Richard Amery, L.A.Beat Editor

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