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Artist Mairi Brascoupé to lead birch bark biting workshop for March Break Art Camp 2024

February 28, 2024

OAG fosters the next generation of artists by offering Art Camps designed to ignite and cultivate artistic passions. Each year the camps feature workshops led by guest artists, providing children with the opportunity to learn from and be inspired by local creatives. This year, the OAG is pleased to announce that the 2024 March Break Camp guest artist is Mairi Brascoupé, an Indigenous artist whose remarkable work is proudly on display at the Gallery. Rooted deeply in her heritage, practice, and community, Mairi Brascoupé is eager to share her knowledge on the enduring art form of birch bark biting.  

Brascoupé’s work is inspired by land-based learning and intergenerational knowledge sharing. As a multidisciplinary Indigenous artist born and raised on unceded Algonquin Territory in Ottawa, she uses traditional methods of creating integrated with contemporary media like printmaking, beadwork, and digital illustration. Brascoupé aims to decolonize the design process, bringing traditional Indigenous knowledge into her artistic practice to highlight the importance of our present-day relationship with the land. She earned her Bachelor of Design from Ryerson University in 2014 and her Master of Arts in Communication Design from Central Saint Martins in London, England, in 2017. Across Canada, her work adorns museums, public spaces, national and private collections, and galleries including the OAG. 

Prominently displayed outdoors at OAG facing the Mackenzie King Bridge, Mairi Brascoupé’s Chickadees and Flowers (2019) exemplifies the artistry that campers will explore. Birch bark biting, an early form of mark-making practiced by Indigenous peoples across Turtle Island where birch trees are present, will be the focus of the workshop. Brascoupé explains that “These bitings were, and continue to be used to illustrate stories, as a pattern for beadwork and artistic expression. They are created by using very thin pieces of birch bark, and with your teeth an image is bitten into the bark.” There are only a few practitioners today, making Mairi Brascoupé’s birch bark biting workshop an exciting opportunity to honour the enduring traditions of Indigenous art and storytelling. 

Campers will not only have the chance to learn from Brascoupé in the workshop, but they will also tour the various exhibition spaces at the OAG and directly engage in person with her Chickadees and Flowers, which showcases the intricate folding technique of birch bark biting. For more information and to register for the OAG’s March Break Art Camp visit our Art Camps page or email camps@oaggao.ca. We look forward to welcoming you there! 

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