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Water SongEnlarge image

Water Song, 2010-2011

Christi Belcourt
Canada, 1966
acrylic on canvas
201.5 x 389 cm
Purchased 2011
National Gallery of Canada (no. 43469)

Foregrounding Métis history and aesthetic practices, this painting merges Belcourt’s knowledge of beadwork traditions – it contains an estimated 150,000 to 250,000 bead-like dots – with her medicinal plant expertise. Wild rose, painted trillium, blueberry, plantain, sundew, clubmoss, strawberry, Indian pipe, skunk cabbage, lady’s slipper, yarrow, thistle, chokecherry, Miskwabiigamo, tamarack, burdock, maple, clover and milkweed are each represented, as are insects, raindrops, dew and various birds – barn owls, two types of warblers, a northern flicker, a downy woodpecker and a nuthatch. The floral designs, prominant in Métis beadwork, are a result of the merging of Indigenous artistic traditions (quillwork, for example) with Victorian embroidery patterns introduced by nuns in Roman Catholic missions.

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