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Faculty member Jason Baerg launches new fashion collection

Photo of Susan Blight by Kristy Boyce

Image: Susan Blight, Delaney Chair in Indigenous Visual Culture is photographed by OCAD U lecturer Kristy Boyce wearing faculty member, Jason Baerg's latest designs. 

Faculty member Jason Baerg launches new fashion collection

What would it look like if fashion cycles were aligned with the lunar calendar? In his new fall collection, Pawahikayhk, fashion designer, artist and Indigenous faculty member at OCAD U, Jason Baerg does just that. 

Pawahikayhk celebrates the fall equinox, with a combination of electric colours, bold patterns and flowing horsehair. The collection’s name means harvest in Michif, the language of the Métis people, a community of which Baerg is a member. 

Baerg is the artistic director of the fashion label ᐊᔨᒪ/Ayimach, which in Cree means a fortunate change of events leading toward success. He started sketching fashion designs as a teenager, growing up in  in Saskatchewan and released his first collection last year.  

“For this collection I was thinking about fall, reflecting on the harvest and the tones associated with it. Movement is also at the core of this work. COVID-19 masks continue to be integrated into my fashion designs as a reflection of our current realities,” explains Baerg. His apparel, which is available via the brand's website, honours the seasons and the colours associated with traditional teachings. 

Pawahikayhk is a capsule collection, a condensed assemblage of garments that acts as a snapshot of the designer’s vision. Pieces from a capsule collection often share a colour scheme or theme and are meant to be mixed and matched. Pawahikayhk was developed very much in that spirit.  

In a recent photoshoot capturing the collection, Baerg brought models from the Indigenous community together with OCAD U Digital Futures graduate and lecturer, Kristy Boyce, in the role of photographer.  

Susan Blight, Delaney Chair in Indigenous Visual Culture was featured in the shoot, wearing an aqua coloured, cinched waist mini-dress with earrings by Indi City, a contemporary Indigenous accessories brand founded by Angel Aubichon, whose family is Peepeekisis Cree.  

Rhéanne Chartrand, a Métis creative producer and graduate of OCAD University was also featured, wearing an olive and camel coloured short sleeve mini-dress in silk with gathered details around the shoulders and a loose turtleneck, which doubles as a face mask. Chartrand is currently the curator of Indigenous Art at McMaster Museum of Art.  

Recently, Dr. Dori Tunstall, Dean of OCAD U’s Faculty of Design, was seen on Instagram sporting Baerg’s two tone cotton romper in blue and red from his 2021 spring collection, Mwachii Lunn (Half Moon).  

ᐊᔨᒪ/Ayimach has gained attention from ELLE Fashion Magazine as well as from former FashionTelevision host Jeanne Beker, who received an Honorary Doctorate from OCAD U in 2018.  

Baerg’s 2020 collection, ᓀᔭᐤ/Neyaw, was celebrated at Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto, an annual event that showcases fashion, textiles and craft by Indigenous artists, that foregrounds the intersection of mainstream fashion, Indigenous art and traditional practices. Neyaw is Cree for a point of land jutting onto the water. Also a capsule collection, ᓀᔭᐤ/Neyaw celebrated Indigenous Futurities, combining metallic materials, upbeat colours, traditional customs and aspirational visions of transformation. 
In addition to launching his new fall fashion line, Baerg’s work is featured in the solo exhibition, Tawâskweyâw ᑕᐋᐧᐢᑫᐧᔮᐤ A Path or Gap Among the Trees, presented by Canada Gallery, housed in the High Commission of Canada in London, UK. The catalogue for this touring retrospective includes essays written by OCAD U’s Ryan Rice, Curator, Indigenous Art for Onsite Gallery; Dr. Gerald McMaster, Canada Research Chair (Tier I) of Indigenous Visual Culture and Curatorial Practice and professor in the Faculty of Art; and Stephen Foster, Dean of the Faculty of Art. The publication is available at Art Metropole
You can check out more of Baerg’s work at the city’s annual international art fair, Art Toronto 2021. His laser-cut paintings will be featured by Vancouver-based, Fazakas Gallery in one of the fair’s eight project spaces.