Transits and Returns features Provocative Works by Twenty-One Indigenous Artists from Across the Pacific

Transits and Returns Explores Ideas of Place and Movement in the Work of Twenty-One Indigenous Artists from Around the Pacific

Themes of Movement, Territory, Kinship and Representation Trace
Roots and Routes of Artists’ Practices Oceans Apart

The Vancouver Art Gallery, in collaboration with the Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane, presents an exhibition exploring the dynamic between place and movement in the work of twenty-one Indigenous artists from around the Pacific. Transits and Returns, on view September 28, 2019 to February 23, 2020, looks at the work of artists whose practices are deeply rooted in their homeland and culture while considering the routes their practices have taken them in physical, intellectual and artistic journeys.

“Building on recent presentations in Brisbane and Auckland, Transits and Returns was conceived through the ambitious work of its five co-curators to trace the wide-ranging nature of Indigenous contemporary art as being inclusive of both ancestral knowledges and global connections,” says Daina Augaitis, Interim Director of the Vancouver Art Gallery. “The Gallery is grateful to Tarah Hogue, who has developed this project for the past two years as our Senior Curatorial Fellow of Indigenous Art. Tarah’s insight has been invaluable to the institution in introducing audiences to Indigenous perspectives and voices from around the world.”

Transits and Returns offers a magnitude of ideas around movement, territory, kinship and representation, which give way to highly specific yet parallel dialogues on Indigeneity. It features local First Nations artists, as well as those from communities located as far as Alutiiq territory in the north to Māori lands in the south, with many mainland and island Nations in between. The exhibition includes works in photography, installation, weaving, sculpture, video and much more.

Patterns of movement—commuting, migrating, visiting, dwelling—inscribe a range of relationships to place and culture. Artists Edith Amituanai, Mariquita “Micki” Davis, Marianne Nicolson and T’uy’t’tanat-Cease Wyss parse the complexities of “return” or homecoming for those living away from their ancestral territories. Their works identify the forces that drive displacement and migration globally such as imperialism and capitalism while pointing to the expansiveness of worlds beyond colonial borders.

The fibre- and textile-based practices of Elisa Jane Carmichael, Maureen Gruben, Carol McGregor and Debra Sparrow represent material embodiments of “territory” as a connector of spiritual, cultural, physical, political and historical relationships with the environment. Woven, stitched and stretched, works by these artists anchor visitors to specific geographies and honour the knowledge, skills and materials connected to those places in contemporary contexts.

Kinship, which exists both within familial relations and beyond, is central to defining a sense of belonging. Hannah Brontë, Bracken Hanuse Corlett, Lisa Hilli, Taloi Havini, and BC Collective with Louisa Afoa evoke these dynamic social relationships through the production and purpose of their artworks.

Christopher Ando, Natalie Ball, Drew Kahuʻāina Broderick with Nāpali Aluli Souza, Chantal Fraser and Ahilapalapa Rands address the possibilities and problems of representation in its visual, political and artistic forms. Through their work, these artists utilize strategies of self-representation as well as resistance in order to critique and imagine alternate worlds.

Extending to the urban environment, the exhibition continues at the Canada Line Vancouver City Centre Station with a graphic mural by Debra Sparrow, produced in partnership with the City of Vancouver Public Art Program and the Canada Line Art Program.

Transits and Returns is organized by the Vancouver Art Gallery in collaboration with the Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane.

The exhibition is curated by Tarah Hogue, Senior Curatorial Fellow, Indigenous Art with Sarah Biscarra Dilley, Freja Carmichael, Léuli Eshraghi and Lana Lopesi.

Generously supported by:
Jane Irwin and Ross Hill

Transits and Returns Catalogue:
A soft-cover catalogue for Transits and Returns will be co-published by the Vancouver Art Gallery and the Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane and will be available for purchase at the Vancouver Art Gallery store. Texts will include a preface and curatorial essay written by the curators, artist profiles, and dialogues between David Garneau, University of Regina Professor and Kimberley Moulton, Senior Curator, South Eastern Aboriginal Collections at Museums Victoria; Kahutoi Mere Te Kanawa, master weaver; and Marianne Nicolson, artist.

Special Program: Great Ocean Dialogues
Co-presented by the Vancouver Art Gallery, Aboriginal Curatorial Collective / Collectif des commissaires Autochtones (ACC/CCA), and SFU Galleries (SFU)

This Indigenous-led gathering will bring together local First Nations artists and knowledge keepers, artists and curators of Transits and Returns, alongside guest speakers from Vancouver and abroad. Conversations will focus on the Great Ocean as both a return to and a reimagining of ancestral and current connections across cultural and geographic contexts. This concept will be considered in parallel with the idea of “Indigenous contemporary art” in order to advance this body of knowledge and practice from Indigenous perspectives.

Saturday, September 28

10 AM–5 PM | A panel of artists from local First Nations, focused conversations between Transits and Returns artists, and an exhibition tour, all taking place at the Vancouver Art Gallery.

7PM–8:30 PM | Panel discussion: Speaking and Relating Across the Great Ocean, Djavad Mowafaghian World Arts Centre, SFU Woodward’s.

Sunday, September 29

9 AM–6:30 PM | A series of panel discussions focused on shaping the future of Indigenous art and curatorial practice from Indigenous perspectives at the Djavad Mowafaghian World Arts Centre, SFU Woodward’s.

Tickets for Great Ocean Dialogues:
Tickets to the panel at the Vancouver Art Gallery on Saturday, September 28 are $15 Members / $30 General Admission now on sale via This ticket guarantees access to all sessions as part of Great Ocean Dialogues.

Saturday evening/Sunday events at SFU Woodward’s: Free. Registration required via

A Note on Welcoming:
Please note that local First Nations will be granted free admission to these events. If cost is a barrier to you, please contact us by phone at 604-662-4700 or by email at [email protected]

About the Vancouver Art Gallery (

Founded in 1931, the Vancouver Art Gallery is recognized as one of North America’s most respected and innovative visual arts institutions. The Gallery’s ground-breaking exhibitions, extensive public programs and emphasis on advancing scholarship all focus on historical and contemporary art from British Columbia and around the world. Special attention is paid to the accomplishments of Indigenous artists, as well as to the arts of the Asia Pacific region—through the Institute of Asian Art that the Gallery founded in 2014. The Gallery’s programs also explore the impacts of images in the larger sphere of visual culture, design and architecture.

The Vancouver Art Gallery is a not-for-profit organization grateful to the support it receives by its members, individual donors, corporate funders, foundations, the City of Vancouver, the Province of British Columbia through the BC Arts Council, and the Canada Council for the Arts.

The Vancouver Art Gallery is situated on the ancestral and unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səl̓ilwətaɁɬ (Tsleil-waututh) Nations, and is respectful of the Indigenous stewards of the land it occupies, whose rich cultures are fundamental to artistic life in Vancouver and to the work of the Gallery.

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Media release and images provided by Hanah Van Borek, Vancouver Art Gallery.

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