Rebecca and Kenny Baird
The collaborative work of these siblings reflects two strong concerns: identity—mixed blood (Cree/Canadian) and a painful engagement with the inaccuracies of First Peoples’ history. Both have become interested in the prima facie of First Peoples’ existence—the ‘ownership’ of land. The works allude to the strata of conflicting claims on natural territory. Purple blossoms display the artists immediate history—their own, their parents or their grandparents former places of residence.
The project refers to the sweeping brutalities of colonial land divisions and to the fluid, pan territorial, transcendent meanings attached to the wild by Native cultures. Above all the work aims to retain a voice that cannot quite be determined, something that points to the luminous mysteries of the earth we travel—the earth that somehow, also, travels us.
Rebecca Baird (First Nations Affiliation: Cree) was born in 1954 in Edmonton, Alberta. For over twenty-five years this highly regarded Native artist has been exploring themes of First Nations identity and representation in a number of contemporary media, including installation/sculpture, painting, print-making to constructions with found objects and braided sweetgrass with quillwork. She brings both a refined aesthetic sensibility and extensive scholarly research to her collaborations with her brother Kenny. She has received a number of significant awards and grants, and has exhibited in Canada and abroad. She was included in the inaugural exhibit From Sea to Shining Sea at the Power Plant and in 1992, Heartland, a collaborative piece she produced with her brother, was exhibited in the major national group show Indigena, at the Museum of Civilization in Hull, Quebec. Her works are in the collections of the Canada Council’s Art Bank, the Museum of Civilization, the Royal Ontario Museum, the Winnipeg Art Gallery, and the Canadian Embassy in Geneva. Baird was artist in residence at the Canadian Museum of Civilization and the University of Toronto in 1993 and at the McMichael Art Gallery in 2004. In 1996, she was commissioned to create a mural The Great Mystery for the Queen Street West Community Health Centre in Toronto and recently was awarded a commission Open Sky for the new Terminal at the Lester B. Pearson International airport in Toronto. She is the founding member of the Sweetgrass Collective which is currently touring an exhibition and publication of archive photography selected, captioned and produced by First Nation visual artists entitled, EveryDay Light: First Nations History As Seen Through The Family Photograph Album. She is a also founding member of the Tecumseh Collective and artistic director of the Tecumseh Arts Festival from 2001 to present.
Kenny Baird (First Nations Affiliation: Cree) was born in 1956 in Kirkland Lake, Ontario. Perhaps best known for his collaborative work with his sister Rebecca, Kenny Baird also has an established reputation in a variety of commercial design media: illustration, costume, set, and interior design, and artistic direction for music videos. Together, he and his sister share a concern for reclaiming Aboriginal North American history, and an understated critique of colonialism, evinced in large-scale installations which exploit Baird's skill in set design. Baird has received several Canada Council and Ontario Arts Council awards, in addition to the MuchMusic Video of the Year Award in 1994 for Blue Rodeo's "Hasn't Hit Me Yet." Baird has been a production designer and art director on videos for Lisa Marie Presley, Marilyn Manson, David Bowie, Sara McLauchlan, Page/Plant Led Zeppelin, Leonard Cohen, and Bonnie Raitt to name a few. His film credits include Four Days, director Curtis Wehrfritz, Spiral with Floria Sigismondi and George Bloomfield’s Jacob Too Too Meets the Hooded Fang and assistant to academy award winner Paul Leblanc for design and illustration of principal character wigs for Milos Forman's Amadeus. Baird's design and installations include the Area Nightclub N.Y.C., The Standard Hotel, Hollywood, and the U.S.A. Maritime nightclub in N.Y. C. Kenny has also designed and the media rooms for the Rolling Stones Voodoo Lounge and Bridges to Babylon tours and Madonna's Don’t Tell Me record release party. In September 2007, he exhibited a new large scale work “Murder of Crows” for the Tecumseh Arts Festival month long visual art Exhibition Witness at Fort York in Toronto. Currently, he is the Art Director for Circa, the largest nightclub in North America situated Toronto