‘Talking Earth’ performance launches Chancellor Santee Smith’s public artwork

Santee Smith performing under theatrical lights

Internationally recognized artist Santee Smith undertook three performances to launch her public ceramic art display that will be permanently displayed at the entrance of the Gardiner Museum in Toronto. (Vladimir Kanic photo provided)

This past weekend, McMaster Chancellor Santee Smith launched her new public artwork Talking Earth with a series of outdoor performances.

An internationally recognized choreographer and multidisciplinary artist, Smith engaged in three performances to activate her public ceramic piece that will be permanently displayed at the entrance of the Gardiner Museum in Toronto, which commissioned this work.

The public outdoor performances, guided by the concept “We are made of clay,” included a blend of dance and projection mapping.

Santee Smith performing at the launch of her art exhibition
@avainmotion photo from Instagram

Through Talking Earth, Smith was excited to share her family’s history of pottery-making as well as that of the Six Nations of the Grand River.

The permanent public artwork is an etched ceramic sculpture inspired by a Rotinohnsyonni four-cornered earthen pottery vessel.

“The fractured and reconstructed vessel symbolizes the disruption and trauma caused by colonization, including the legacy of the residential school system, assimilative politics imposed on womxn, and the crisis of Missing & Murdered Indigenous Womxn and Girls. Moving toward intactness, the vessel evokes the process of re-assembling culture, memory and ancestral knowledge,” says Smith.

(Photo from Santee Smith)

This project was launched during the International Ceramic Art Fair, which is running until June 19, and is part of ArtworxTO: Toronto’s Year of Public Art 2021-2022.

Click here for a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the work that went into creating the piece, and for more images of Talking Earth’ visit Smith’s Instagram.