Nelson White: Tukien (Awaken)

Display Date: 
January 14, 2023 – April 4, 2023
Level 4 Main Art Gallery

Organized and circulated by the Confederation Centre Art Gallery and Grenfell Art Gallery, Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador
Curators: Matthew Hills (Director/Curator, Grenfell Art Gallery, Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador) and Pan Wendt (Curator, Confederation Centre Art Gallery)

Nelson White’s paintings document and celebrate kin. Tukien (Awaken) maps a community of artists, creatives, activists and leaders who defy simple and singular understandings of Indigeneity. His works celebrate the blending of past, present and future in contemporary Indigenous life—what the artist describes as a "collective awakening." Combining bright colours and a Pop art style with traditional motifs, White’s paintings undermine one-dimensional understandings of Mi’kmaq people and their lived realities. His work is particularly resonant in Newfoundland and Labrador, where many reconnect with their Indigenous heritage following years of erasure by colonial entities.

Newly commissioned artwork will accompany this exhibition.

About the Artist

Born and raised in the community of Epwikek, Ktaqmkuk (Flat Bay, NL), Nelson White is a member of the Flat Bay First Nation Band. He attended the Visual Arts program at the former Bay St. George Community College, before graduating from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. His paintings are included in public and private collections across North America, including The Rooms Collection and the collection of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.

Image: detail of Reclaiming the Throne (Jordan Bennett, Artist, on Joey Smallwood’s Chair) (2019). Oil on canvas. Image courtesy of the artist.