Alan Syliboy: The Thundermaker
For First Nation artist, activist, and musician Alan Syliboy, stories are the thread that ties the Mi’kmaq people together, making them aware of their identity and place in the world. In this major, multi-media installation inspired by the recently discovered Mi’kmaq legend of The Stone Canoe, Syliboy tells the story of the Thunder Maker. Directly related to a new graphic novel created by the artist and published by Gaspereau Press, it features among its various components a circle of illustrated panels based on the childhood of Little Thunder (Kaqtukwaqsis), whose mother teaches him stories that have been passed down from generation to generation.
There is a tent flap at the end of this sequence of images. The viewer is invited to enter and is presented with another circle of images that depict Little Thunder now being taught lessons by his father, Big Thunder. The young protagonist is learning to become a provider and to become the new Thunder Maker.
The viewer then enters a tipi and is witness to Little Thunder making thunder for the first time. This last component is presented through projected animation, a medium that Syliboy began working with a few years ago with his two-minute animated NBF film Little Thunder co-created with Nance Ackerman and presented at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, BC, as well as at over forty film festivals around the world.
Syliboy lives on the Millbrook First Nation reserve in Nova Scotia, and is known for his vibrant paintings inspired by the ancient petroglyph images and traditional quill weaving designs of the Mi’kmaq people. His work has been exhibited regionally, nationally, and internationally, and is included in numerous private and public collections, including the Beaverbrook Gallery, the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, the Art Collection of the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs, and the Innu Nation. Along with full-time practice as a visual artist, Syliboy also plays percussion in the award-winning band Lone Cloud, and was co-curator of the Beaverbrook’s groundbreaking 2009 exhibition Ekpahak: Where the tide ends, which featured a cross-section of artwork from several of New Brunswick’s First Nations reserves.
Curator: Terry Graff
Organized by the Beaverbrook Art Gallery with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, the City of Fredericton, and the Province of New Brunswick.