Heartbeat of Mother Earth

Emily Akikodjiwan Brascoupe-Hoefler
Two mixed-media circular canvases on a dark red wall. Each canvas is divided into eight sections, with an eye at the centre.
© Justin Wonnacott
ArtistEmily Akikodjiwan Brascoupe-Hoefler
Nationality Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg
Medium Mixed media on canvas
Dimensions 2 canvases each 0.9m x 0.9m
Acquisition Commission
Date 2022

Heartbeat of Mother Earth is a visual land acknowledgement and welcome from the Algonquin People to visitors of the National Arts Centre. This mixed media art piece acknowledges the land, the waters, the sky and the people who have lived on this land since time immemorial. The round shape of the canvas represents the drum, the heartbeat of mother earth and a way to welcome people to the land. The octagonal outline within the circle signifies the four directions. Each direction has a grandmother and grandfather making eight parts. Each canvas is split into four panels to represent the body, mind, heart and spirit of all people. 

Celestial Bodies – Spirit
The artwork includes traditional sky and land teachings taught to me by my father and grandfather, two of the first people to take me onto the land. The sky includes teachings and stories depicting celestial bodies: the story of the bear and the three brothers, the North star that guides us, the little bear, the great loon and the crane. 

Eyes – Body
The eyes represent “two eyed seeing” and welcome people from every corner of the world to the land and the National Art Centre. One eye is painted in shades of brown and red and the other in shades of blue and green so that every viewer can see themselves represented in the eyes, symbolizing unity. Everyone has a place in the circle.

The Sacred Falls – Heart
Akikodjiwan, the sacred falls, is the water way that continues to bring families, communities and people together in, what we now call, Ottawa. Water, a sacred gift to all creatures that inhabit our earth, water sustains us and represents new life. 

Birch – Mind
Algonquin People used the bark from the silver birch tree to make baskets, canoes and design patterns by birch bark biting. Silver birch trees grow all around the Ottawa area. The birch represents our collective memory and the way we pass down traditions from one generation to the next. 

Heartbeat of Mother Earth is a way to remind viewers that Algonquin People are still here. It is Emily’s hope that everyone who sees it understands the strength and pride of the Algonquin People.  

Emily Akikodjiwan Brascoupe-Hoefler is a mixed media artist and educator who creates pieces of art inspired by her family and community’s teachings and her experiences on the land. Through the process of reclaiming lost art practices and traditions, she is weaving new cultural understanding and healing into her work. 

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