Artists showcase their craft in Honouring the Work of Hands exhibition

By: Zoe Vander Aa

Beadwork, paintings, textiles, illustrations and more hang on the wall in a small room at the Ace Art Inc. gallery down the street from Red River College Polytechnic’s Exchange District Campus.

Métis beadwork artist Vi Houssin is one of the artists featured in the Honouring the Work of Hands exhibit. Houssin has hand-woven beaded portraits of women who inspire her for the exhibit.

The women represented in Houssin’s art are her mentor Jennine Krauchi, local drag queen Anita Stallion and her grandmother Elma Houssin. 

“These are three women who have taught me how to be a woman, how to be Métis, and how to live, how to grow older in this body and take care of the people and community I love,” said Houssin. 

Houssin says she uses a traditional Métis two-needle stitch method to create her  beadwork, and an off-loom bead weaving technique to honour her Michif heritage and contribute to the craft of her ancestors. 

Jennifer Gibson viewing the works of Vi Houssin (left) and Mandy Malazdrewich (right) in the Honouring the Work of Hands exhibit at Ace Art Inc. on Wednesday, March 20. (Zoe Vander Aa)

Houssin is a 2019 Creative Communications graduate from RRC Polytech. She was a mentee in the 2022-2023 Foundation Mentorship Program at Mentoring Artists for Women’s Art (MAWA). Their final project was to create pieces for an exhibit.

Jennine Krauchi is the Métis beadwork artist who mentored Houssin through the program. Krauchi’s work has been displayed in museums and galleries all around the world including Europe and the U.S. Her work is also displayed in the Manitoba Museum, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and Parks Canada.

“The program, our relationships with our mentors, and our relationships with one another as mentees are all really important to the show,” says Houssin.

Emma Mayer says she joined the MAWA program as a way to build community as an artist after receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts diploma from the University of Manitoba.

“I felt like my art practice had kind of stagnated since finishing my degree at the U of M and was looking for an opportunity to dedicate myself to making art again,” says Mayer.

Mayer is a multidisciplinary artist whose pieces are often rooted in memory and nostalgia. For this exhibit, she took her inspiration from old craft magazines that showed hand-made objects that rode the line of creepy and endearing.

“Play, humour, and inquiry are key elements of my artistic practice,” says Mayer. 

Mayer says she creates art in a variety of mediums including video, sculpture, printmaking and drawing. 

The MAWA exhibit features seven different artists and runs until April 19.