In Conversation Conjures Important Conversations Spanning Generations
Canadian artist and designer of East Asian descent Andrea Tsang Jackson created In Conversation, a contemporary large-scale public artwork of fabric-inspired motifs installed on a parkade in Kjipuktuk/Halifax, Nova Scotia. It celebrates Mi’kmaq, African Nova Scotian, Acadian, Gaelic and newcomer communities; collaboration; and belonging. Inspired by six stories of craft from around the province of Nova Scotia, Tsang Jackson shared conversations with leaders and community members about different craft traditions, all of which led to the creation of In Conversation.
“My approach was to be a type of documentary maker, gathering stories and representing them through visual art,” says Jackson, “rather than through a more conventional documentary medium such as film or journalism.”
Using a parking building that is part of a multi-year redevelopment of the QEII Health Sciences Centre, In Conversation is a public art project that interweaves culture and craft by drawing on conversations and stories from Ida Simon, Daurene Lewis and Rose Fortune, Annie-Rose and Gerard Deveau, Mary MacLean, and other makers. The craft traditions represented in this large-scale work are rooted in place, and have been part of Nova Scotia for a long time. And yet, some are also new.
Before starting the large-scale work in February, 2021, Tsang Jackson asked herself many questions: How do I show reverence and respect for what objects and traditions that have been here? And, inextricably so, for who is here and who has been here? How do I honour the work and the people that have come before me, while making space for myself? How do I tell stories that are not my own?
All images by Deborah Wong.