dc3 Art Projects is proud to present Don’t Breathe, Don’t Drink - a large-scale mixed media installation by Ruth Cuthand exploring contamination and community.
Watching footage of the 2011 housing crisis in Attawapiskat coupled with home improvement programs on TV, Cuthand conceived a new body of work growing from her interest in infections impacting Indigenous peoples. Don't Breathe, Don't Drink is a celebratory dining table set in a First Nation reserve home, panelled with incendiary ‘gas board’ infamous to firefighters and ubiquitous in northern communities. A table covered in blue industrial tarpaulin, material used to create temporary shelters when reserve housing is unfit, bears beaded black mold spores magnified to heraldic emblem proportions. The table holds 94 found glass vessels: glasses, baby bottles and ‘sippy cups’ containing hand-beaded Giardia, Helicobacter, E. coli and other infectious vectors, set in resin, responsible for 94 Nations under long term boil water advisory. Walls at this celebration are hung with portraits of these and other contagions impacting the first people of our land, past present and future.
An artist of Plains Cree and Scottish ancestry, Cuthand’s practice explores the frictions between cultures, the failures of representation, and the political uses of anger. Cuthand’s beaded portraits of infectious agents significant to indigenous people, past and present, were featured in the survey show of contemporary Canadian art, Oh, Canada, at MASS MoCA in 2012, which subsequently travelled across Canada. Works from her Surviving series were recently included in the Contemporary Native Art Biennial in Montréal, organized by Art Mûr under the theme Culture Shift – Une révolution culturelle.
In 2013, Cuthand was awarded the Saskatchewan Lieutenant Governor’s Arts Award and in 2015 was named an Alumni of Influence by the College of Arts and Science at the University of Saskatchewan. Cuthand holds an MFA from the University of Saskatchewan, and lives and works in Saskatoon, SK.