Kelsey Street: Weaving Back & Forth

Display Date: 
October 15, 2022 – January 22, 2023
Level 3 Harbour Art Gallery

Elbow Room Residency Series

 “My Grandmother was a brave Mi'kmaw woman, and spent most of her time knitting, sewing, dancing and, of course, quilting. I like to think of these beadworks as a collaboration with her, as a way to begin telling a larger story.” – Kelsey Street

Kelsey Street’s Maternal Grandmother, Alice Mary Bennett, passed away four years ago. The quilts she left behind have become treasured objects in family homes, along with the memories of spending time on Woods Island, in the Bay of Islands. With this new body of work, Street translates her Grandmother’s quilts into small beaded forms. The process is a way of working through grief but also continuance and reconnection, a conversation through time and the act of making. Throughout, Street works through the approach of Two-Eyed-Seeing–a way of viewing the world through both settler and Indigenous perspectives. By developing this work while dialoguing with her Grandmother and her L’nu and settler ancestry, Street reveals how we are all interconnected and interdependent.

 Click here to view the exhibition brochure with texts by Megan Samms, Kelsey Street and Jane Walker.

Artist Statement

Alice Mary Bennett was born and lived a lot of her life on Woods Island—a small fishing community in the heart of the Bay of Islands that was resettled in the 1960s. Some of my favourite memories are the early mornings on the Island, beachcombing with my nanny looking to see what gifts the tide had left on the shore overnight as we slept. The tides give and take, as the ocean pushes and pulls, but seamlessly creates a constant flowing harmony between the land and the sea.

In Mi’kmaq language, there is a guiding principle known as “Etuaptmumk” meaning “Two-Eyed-Seeing,” originally introduced by Elder Albert Marshall, that involves seeing with one eye the world through Indigenous knowledge, and seeing with the other eye through Western perspectives, and simultaneously seeing both worlds as a way to create balance and harmony—much like the land and sea.

Extending further within my own experiences, I started responding to these traditional quilts through beadwork, as a way of collaborating with my Newfoundland settler and Indigenous heritage simultaneously. This relationship between beading and quilting is a way for me to connect multiple perspectives, and see through both lenses to co-learn and create an understanding of both cultures. 

My Grandmother was a brave Mi'kmaw woman, and spent most of her time knitting, sewing, dancing and, of course, quilting. I like to think of these beadworks as a collaboration with her, as a way to begin telling a larger story.                  
                     - Kelsey Street (2022)

About the Artist

Kelsey Street is an L’nu artist from Elmastukwek, Ktaqmkuk Territory (Bay of Islands, NL). She has an interdisciplinary arts practice working in a variety of forms such as beadwork, textile/craft, printmaking processes and site-specific performance/installation. Within her practice, Street navigates ways of connecting to her Newfoundland settler and Indigenous heritage, often exploring themes of community, home and resettlement. Street graduated with a BFA in Visual Arts from Memorial University of Newfoundland (2019) and has participated in exhibitions provincially and internationally (Canada and UK) at venues such as Tina Dolter Gallery, Craft Council, PULP Gallery, Grenfell Art Gallery and Gatehouse Arts.

About the Guest Authors

Megan Samms is an artist, farmer and community worker in her home territory and community–Katalisk, Ktaqmkuk. Megan is an Internationally Indigenous person of Mi’kmaq, Nlaka’pamux and mixed settler descent.

Jane Walker is an artist, writer and community worker based in Bonavista, NL. She is a descendant of European settlers in the Bonavista Bay and Trinity Bay areas.

About the Elbow Room Residency

This exhibition is part of The Elbow Room Residency Series, which provides studio space and support for emerging artists in the province. To learn more or apply to the Elbow Room Residency Program click here

Image credits: 

Beaded work: Kelsey Street. Rough Waters (2022). Glass, beads, string. Collection of the artist.
Quilt: Alice Mary Bennett. Untitled (2000). Cotton, batting, thread. Collection of the artist’s family. Made in Corner Brook, Bay of Islands, NL.