In/Tension with Raven Davis
“Spirituality,” notes Halifax-based mutli-hypenate Raven Davis, “has allowed me another access point to regulate the harm that indigenous and black and disabled people often experience in galleries, curatorial spaces, and institutions.”
In episode eight of In/Tension, Anishinaabe artist, curator, and educator, Raven Davis joins host Neil Price for a conservation around art and activism. Here the artist discusses their mother’s influence on their artistic journey, connections between art and spirituality, the hateful responses to their Sobey Art Prize-nominated performance It’s Not Your Fault, 2016, and eventually embracing the role of the activist-artist.
Courtesy Raven Davis.
Born and raised in Toronto, Raven Davis is an Anishinaabe, two-Spirit, transgender, and disabled multidisciplinary artist, curator, and educator. Incorporating a myriad of mediums into their work, Davis employs painting, performance, Anishinabek song and dance, design, poetry, and film to address themes of systemic oppression, colonization, race, gender, disability, transformative justice, land practice, and Indigiqueer identity. As such, artmaking is both ritual and practice—rooted in traditions and narratives that transcend Western conceptions of time and space. Their practice centres on lived experience—fusing relationships to colonial systems, intergenerational histories, lands, and futures—in order to recast past traumas and uplift the historically marginalized communities to which they belong.
Courtesy Raven Davis.
The Halifax-based artist has participated in a number of exhibitions across Canada, including Mmenwenmad | To Save for Later at the University of Waterloo in 2022; In Dialogue shown at the Art Museum at the University of Toronto, the Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba in Brandon, and the Carlton University Art Gallery from 2017-2018; as well as níchiwamiskwém | nimidet | ma soeur | my sister at The Contemporary Native Art Biennial (BACA) in Montreal, Quebec; The De-Celebration of Canada 150 at the Khyber Center for the Arts in Halifax, Nova Scotia; and Duality at the Kennedy Gallery in North Bay, Ontario, all in 2017.
In addition to this impressive exhibition record, Davis has received several prestigious accolades, including an Art and Activism Residency from NSCAD University in 2016 and the Cape Breton Industry Award in 2009. In 2010, they received a nomination for the Cape Breton Partnership, Aboriginal Women of Distinction in Business award and, in 2016, Davis was nominated for the Sobey Art Award in recognition of their performance It’s Not Your Fault.
In/Tension, produced by The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, is a limited podcast series of intimate, thought-provoking and accessible conversations with emerging, mid-career, and established contemporary visual artists across Canada. In/Tension aims to shed light on the breadth of the Canadian contemporary art scene and provide a platform for diverse artistic voices to dive deep into their creative intentions and facets of their practice.
This project is supported by a Digital Now grant from the Canada Council for the Arts.