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Jordan Bennett, pi'tawita'iek: we go up river, 2022. Installation view. Photo by Yuula Benivolski.
Join Lisa Deanne Smith for an in-depth tour of Jordan Bennett: pi'tawita'iek: we go up river

Friday, October 6th, 2023. 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Please meet us at Butterfield Park, 100 McCaul Street.

Register for tickets here

Above Image: Jordan Bennett, pi'tawita'iek: we go up river, 2022. Installation view. Photo by Yuula Benivolski. 

Jordan Bennett, pi'tawita'iek: we go up river, 2022. Installation view. Photo by Yuula Benivolski.
Jordan Bennett, pi'tawita'iek: we go up river, 2022. Installation view. Photo by Yuula Benivolski. 


pi'tawita'iek: we go up river by Jordan Bennett

Curated by Lisa Deanne Smith, Curator, Onsite Gallery

pi'tawita'iek: we go up river on the south wall of OCAD University’s main campus, adjacent to Butterfield Park, grounds the space in Indigenous material culture. This public artwork is rooted in Bennett’s relationships with Mi’kmaq porcupine quillwork. He brings forward and reimagines their graphic patterns, bright colours and inspiring stories. In visiting with these cultural objects, Bennett connects with their visual language and furthers this visual conversation through his contemporary influences and experience.

The Jordan Bennett mural received grant funding as part of ArtworxTO: Toronto's Year of Public Art 2021–2022, a year-long celebration of Toronto’s exceptional public art collection and the creative community behind it. Working closely with artists and Toronto’s arts institutions, ArtworxTO will deliver major public art projects and commissions, citywide, from fall 2021 to fall 2022. Supporting local artists and new artworks that reflect Toronto's diversity, ArtworxTO is creating more opportunities for citizens to engage with art in their everyday lives.  Since September, the City of Toronto invites the public to discover creativity and community–everywhere. Visit for full details. 

We also acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts and TD Bank. 

Jordan Bennett is a Mi’kmaq visual artist from Stephenville Crossing, Ktaqmkuk (Newfoundland). He lives and works on his ancestral territory of Mi’kma’ki in Corner Brook, Newfoundland. Bennett’s ongoing practice utilizes painting, sculpture, textiles, video, installation, public art and sound to explore land, language, the act of visiting, familial histories and challenging colonial perceptions of Indigenous histories and presence with a focus on exploring Mi’kmaq and Beothuk visual culture.

In the past 10 years Bennett has participated in over 90 group and solo exhibitions nationally and internationally, as well as created numerous public art commissions. Bennett is currently working towards several public artworks nationally as well as group and solo exhibitions. Bennett's solo exhibition, Souvenir, curated by Ryan Rice was at Onsite Gallery at OCAD University, in 2022, in Toronto, Ontario. He is the recipient of several awards and honours, most notably the 2020 Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia Masterworks Arts Award. He was longlisted for the 2015 and 2016 Sobey Art Award, was shortlisted for the 2018 awards and was a longlist winner in 2020 along with being a 2019 recipient of the Van Houtte Masters’ Fund Program, a Hnatyshyn Foundation REVEAL award and was presented with the 2014 Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council’s Artist of the Year.

Bennett has taken part in several artist in residency programs including NSCAD Lithography Workshop: Contemporary Editions, Halifax, NS in 2019, With Secrecy and Despatch, Campbelltown Art Centre, Campbelltown, Australia an Santa Fe Art Institute, Santa Fe, NM in 2015 RMIT University international Artist in Residence Program, Melbourne, Australia in 2014, Shared Lands- Centre D'artistes Vaste et Vague, Carleton-sur-Mer, Quebec and Woodland School, What Color is the Present, Visual Arts, The Banff Centre, Alberta in 2013.

He is the recipient of several awards and honours most notably one of the 2020 winners of the Sobey Art Award, long listed for the 2018, 2016 and 2015 Sobey Art Award, a Hnatyshan Foundation REVEAL award and presented with the 2014 Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Councils Artist of the Year. Bennett holds a BFA from Sir Wilfred Grenfell College, Memorial University and an MFA from The University of British Columbia, Okanagan.

Lisa Deanne Smith is the Senior Curator of Onsite Gallery at OCAD University. Her curatorial practice challenges extractive worldviews through visual culture that equally values humans and all living beings (earth, air, water, plants, and animals, etc.). Her recent exhibitions exploring these ideas are, The Sunshine Eaters, How to Breathe Forever and How will we be with you? which featured Shary Boyle, Nick Cave, Jeremy Dutcher, Brian Jungen, Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung, Alanis Obomsawin, Ebony G. Patterson and Pejvak, among others. These projects and her drive to increase the value of experiential knowledge led her to discover Forest Therapy, also called Shinrin-Yoko or Forest Bathing. Recently, she became a certified Forest Therapy Guide through the Global Institute of Forest Therapy and Nature Connection and finds it deeply meaningful to support others (and herself) in connecting to nature in a way that is life affirming for all living beings.


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