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Wally Dion Book

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Wally Dion Catalogue published by the MacKenzie Art Gallery, Regina, SK in 2008. Essay by Michelle LaVallee. Softcover. 32 pages. Measures 19.5x28cm. 

This catalog highlights the solo exhibition showcasing portraits from Wally Dion's Red Worker series and his new Starblankets. Dion uses the techniques of social realism to discuss First Nations class struggles in modern Saskatchewan life.  Dion’s Red Worker series is comprised of several monumental portraits depicting Aboriginal people in the workforce. These larger-than-life portraits are composed of multiple panels, a technique that draws attention to society’s imposition of grid-like systems or categorizations, such as the pattern of land colonization.

It is from this series that Dion’s labour intensive sculptural constructions evolved. Recycling first world waste, he has created Starblankets and Shields out of computer circuitry boards using patterns that call to mind traditional quilts and blankets. In particular, the iconic star patterns that appear reference plains First Nations designs. Playing with our concept of time and tradition, they stimulate discussion of how traditions are valued and interpreted within modern society. In their use of material and symbolism they allude to systems of connections and communication. The modern circuitry offers an updated symbol of longstanding social networks, while at the same time talking about empowerment through technology within First Nations communities.

Dion’s Shield Wall is constructed with the same circuitry boards as his Starblankets, but with an added layer of plexiglass similar to that used for riot shields. Composed of six star shields, spanning over three meters when placed side by side, the piece might appear, at first glance, menacing. Dion’s Shield Wall, however, is not meant to threaten the viewer but to symbolize a mobile force that calls upon and can encircle kin in a protective manner while resisting the mob of ignorance and intolerance. Dion’sShield Wall asserts social mobility and empowerment through technology, communication, knowledge, education and unity.

Wally Dion b.1976, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Wally (Walter) Dion is a Canadian artist of Saulteaux ancestry living and working in Upstate New York. Working in a number of media including painting, drawing and sculpture, his art is concerned with issues of identity and power; it includes both representational and abstract geometric works.

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