Ociciwan strives to remain fluid and flexible, just like the river the contemporary art collective is named after. This fluidity translates to many aspects of their organization, and they strive to transform into the needs of their surrounding communities. Ociciwan started through a series of conversations around a kitchen table, with like-minded and arts-focused people who saw a lack of Indigenous representation in Amiskwaciy Waskahikan (Edmonton). Through these first conversations, Ociciwan led, curated, and facilitated exhibitions around the city, partnering with organizations like the Art Gallery of Alberta, Latitude 53, Western Canada Fashion Week, City of Edmonton’s City Hall, and Edmonton city parks.
In 2017, Ociciwan realized they needed a space of their own. After many years of meeting with City officials, fund sourcing, renovations, and a global pandemic, Ociciwan officially opened its doors to the public in the Fall of 2020. The space they attained needed to be as fluid as their mandate and vision. When renovating they wanted it to transform into the needs of the community, “whether it was for an installation or art performance or a community feast,” Becca Taylor, Director says of the vision of the building. Ociciwan installs four projects a year with longer exhibition runs of ten weeks. They also provide longer periods of time in between the exhibits.,leaving room for experimentation during installation. Ociciwan recognizes contemporary art as whatever is being made now by Indigenous peoples. This includes traditional arts and fine arts mediums.
Ociciwan was built to uphold Indigenous contemporary artists in the city and to create critical dialogue about indigeneity, representation, and access in the communities. Becca adds that “we are starting to see a lot more Indigenous representation with other venues and exhibition spaces.” She says that having a physical place “where marginalized voices can exist the way they need to exist within these spaces really opens up the opportunity for larger conversations.”
Mission + Vision + Values
Based in the region of Amiskwaciy Waskahikan (Edmonton) Ociciwan supports the work of Indigenous contemporary artists and designers and engages in contemporary critical dialogue. We value artistic collaboration and foster the awareness of Indigenous contemporary art practices.