Powerful Glow

11 June 2022 to 18 September 2022

Featuring work by Jordan Bennett, Patricia Deadman, Ursula Johnson, Mike MacDonald, Peter Morin, Luke Parnell, Archer Pechawis, Anne Riley, Fallon Simard, Becca Taylor, Art Wilson and T'uy't'tanat-Cease Wyss

Curated by Lisa Myers

Opening Reception and Performance by Archer Pechawis:
Friday 17 June, 7 pm


If we think of land and waterways as readable with a range that is fluid and ever changing, living and legible, then we can see how one’s understanding of land grows over long periods of time.

Gathered around the medicine and butterfly artworks by the late Mi’kmaw artist Mike MacDonald, this exhibition brings together artists whose works are rooted in and stem from specific plant and land vocabularies that reflect place-based knowledge and nuanced perspectives of medicine.

MacDonald was a documentarian and media artist who also created garden artworks. Through documenting medicine plants for Elders in Gitxsan territory, MacDonald came to consider flora and butterflies as his teachers. Over several years, he planted more than twenty garden artworks across the land known as Canada. Through these plantings he developed a detailed vocabulary of medicinal plants, butterflies, and their diverse ecologies. Medicine takes material form through plants and food, but this exhibition invites you to imagine medicine as care and teaching; as continuance and memory; as mentorship and learning; and to consider that medicine can manifest as courage to defend land and resistance against ongoing colonial state violence.

The conversations exchanged among these artworks create a powerful glow made possible through a commitment to reciprocity, remediation and remembering. Reciprocity evokes the acts of offering and then doing, where remediation contends with the context at hand and is about being from and for. Remembering, whether through one’s body or material archives, can be painful, nourishing, interpretive and reflective ways to access ancestral knowledge.

Reciprocity, remediation, remembering - fluid, ever changing, living.


Looking Back

Rooting into Mike MacDonald’s work with butterflies, butterfly gardens and the passionate defence of the environment that inspired his life’s work, we invite you to explore this archived version of the artist's website. This site was recognized with the Aboriginal Achievement Award for New Media in 2000, alongside MacDonald’s essay “Indians in Cyberspace.” Engage materials about plants, butterflies and some of the work featured in Powerful Glow.


Archer Pechawis: For Mike

Marking the opening of Powerful Glow, Cree artist Archer Pechawis revisited For Mike, a performance that honours the late Mi’kmaw artist Mike MacDonald while acknowledging the tensions and violence of the Kahnesatà:ke resistance of 1990 (the Oka Crisis). This cathartic and reflective performance emphasizes courage to defend land and resistance against ongoing colonial state violence.

This exhibition is presented with the support of York University's Faculty of Environmental & Urban Change

Logo for York University's Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change



Premier Exhibition Sponsor

Logo for CIBC Private Wealth - Allan Bush Investment Team


Image: Mike MacDonald, Touched by the Tears of a Butterfly, 1995. Digital video, seven rocking chairs, air ionizer, silk scrim. 14:30 mins. Courtesy of Vtape. Photo: KWAG.

Related Events & Programs

18 June 2022
to 18 June 2022
Event Type: Special Events
A sunset event presented in concert with Powerful Glow
22 June 2022
to 22 June 2022
Event Type: Talks & Tours
Join us in-person or online for a free presentation from the curator of Powerful Glow and Planting one Another
25 June 2022
to 25 June 2022
Event Type: Talks & Tours
Explore Powerful Glow with KWAG Curator Darryn Doull