Alberta University of the Arts Launches Inaugural Premier Speaker Series by Exploring How Art and Media Imagine Indigenous Futures

An image from the video work "The Peacewalker Returns" (2017) by Skawennati

Calgary, Alberta – Alberta University of the Arts (AUArts), the province’s newest university and the only one dedicated to art, craft and design education, will launch its Premier Visiting Speaker Series with a presentation by two groundbreaking artists and researchers.
Skawennati and Jason Edward Lewis are pioneers in Canada’s vibrant digital art scene. They are especially significant for their use of creative and emerging technologies in exploring issues of identity, indigeneity and the power of the digital imaginary.

They co-direct Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace, Skins Workshops on Aboriginal Storytelling and Video Game Design, and the Initiative for Indigenous Futures while both maintaining active personal practices. 
“In the light of Canada’s efforts for truth and reconciliation, it is significant that AUArts is leading off with a discussion how art and technology can create possible spaces for future indigeneity that has been nearly eradicated during a very complicated past,” says AUArts Media Arts Professor, Kurtis Lesick. “The power of Skawennati and Lewis’ work is that it questions how the past can be resolved when we are unable or unwilling to imagine certain communities in the future.”
AUArts President and CEO, Dr. Daniel Doz adds “it is the social responsibility of art, craft and design educators to ask and explore hard questions and lead essential dialogues about our future. Alberta University of the Arts is proud to take on its leadership role in brokering these conversations. I cannot imagine two better artists to help us launch this endeavor.”
WHEN: Wednesday, February 13, 2019, from 2pm – 3pm
WHERE: Stanford Perrott Lecture Theatre, AUArts
>>> Register for the event via Eventbrite
>>> Learn more about the event


For more information please contact: 

Steven Hodges, Community Engagement Strategist
Alberta University of the Arts
T. 403.284.7656 C. 403.472.5756

Marion Garden, Director, Communications & Marketing
Alberta University of the Arts
T. 403.284.7643 C. 403.585.8114

About the Artists:

Photo by Roger Lemoyne, 2015

Skawennati makes art that addresses history, the future, and change from an Indigenous perspective. She is best known for her machinimas—movies made in virtual environments—but also produces still images and sculpture.

Her pioneering new media projects include the online gallery/chat-space and mixed-reality event, CyberPowWow (1997-2004); a paper doll/time-travel journal, Imagining Indians in the 25th Century (2001); and the machinimas TimeTraveller™ (2007-2013), She Falls For Ages (2017) and The Peacemaker Returns (2017). These have been presented in Venice, Germany, New Zealand, Hawaii, Ireland, China, and across North America in major exhibitions such as “Now? Now!” at the Biennale of the Americas; and “Looking Forward (L’Avenir)” at the Montreal Biennale. Her award-winning work is included in both public and private collections including the National Bank of Canada, Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians & Western Art, Global Affairs Canada and the Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art.

Born in Kahnawá:ke Mohawk Territory, Skawennati is Kanien'kehá:ka of the turtle clan. She holds a BFA from Concordia University in Montreal, where she resides. She is Co-Director, with Jason E. Lewis, of Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace (AbTeC), a research network of artists, academics and technologists investigating, creating and critiquing Indigenous virtual environments. She also co-directs their Skins workshops in Aboriginal Storytelling and Digital Media. This year AbTeC launched IIF, the Initiative for Indigenous Futures; Skawennati is its Partnership Coordinator.

Photo by Christie Vuong 

Jason Edward Lewis is a digital media poet, artist, and software designer. He founded Obx Laboratory for Experimental Media, where he directs research/creation projects exploring computation as a creative and cultural material. Along with the artist Skawennati, he co-directs Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace, Skins Workshops on Aboriginal Stortyelling and Video Game Design and the Initiative for Indigenous Futures.

Lewis is deeply committed to developing intriguing new forms of expression by working on conceptual, critical, creative and technical levels simultaneously.

He is the Concordia University Research Chair in Computational Media and the Indigenous Future Imaginary as well as Professor of Computation Arts at Concordia University, Montreal. Born and raised in northern California, Lewis is Cherokee, Hawaiian and Samoan.

Lewis' research interests include emergent media theory and history, and methodologies for conducting art-led technology research. Lewis' creative work has been featured at Ars Electronica, Mobilefest, Elektra, Urban Screens, ISEA, SIGGRAPH, and FILE, among other venues, and has been recognized with the inaugural Robert Coover Award for Best Work of Electronic Literature, a Prix Ars Electronica Honorable Mention, several imagineNATIVE Best New Media awards and six solo exhibitions. He's the author or co-author of chapters in collected editions covering mobile media, video game design, machinima and experimental pedagogy with Indigenous communities, as well as numerous journal articles and conference papers.

He has worked in a range of industrial research settings, including Interval Research, US West's Advanced Technology Group, and the Institute for Research on Learning, and, at the turn of the century, he founded and ran a research studio for the venture capital firm Arts Alliance.

Lewis is a former Trudeau Fellow and a former Carnegie Fellow. He received a B.S. in Symbolic Systems (Cognitive Science) and B.A. in German Studies (Philosophy) from Stanford University, and an M.Phil. in Design from the Royal College of Art.

About Alberta University of the Arts
Alberta University of the Arts (AUArts) is a community of thinkers, shapers, makers and risk takers. We are students, faculty, staff and alumni rich in diversity of culture and thought, challenged to fearlessly explore what moves us, drives us, and implores us to see the world differently.
Formerly Alberta College of Art and Design, we are dedicated to innovative and emerging art, craft and design programs. For nearly 100 years, AUArts has educated in ways that test the boundaries of common thought and we celebrate eleven Governor General’s Award winners amongst our faculty and alumni. Alberta University of the Arts has five Schools of learning: Visual Art, Craft and Emerging Media, Communication Design, and Critical and Creative Studies offering undergraduate BFA and BDes degrees, and a graduate MFA, plus the School of Continuing Education and Professional Development.
Our studio-based education model introduces learners to a community of passionate minds, provocative thinkers, ambitious doers and brave creators.