a John V. Hicks Gallery Exhibition 

Maria Hirsi: 11 Main Street

July 17 - August 23, 2020

Artist Statement 


Installation shot, 2020, John V. Hicks Gallery

In this exhibition, the Mann Art Gallery is pleased to present a selection of fifteen abstract artworks by Maria Hirsi, a recent Carlton graduate. Hirsi has grown up in the communities of Prince Albert and Meath Park. She is the youngest Indigenous woman to have a debut exhibition at the John V. Hicks Gallery.

11 Main Street gives you a glimpse into a unique world— what it’s like to grow up with the freedom to draw all over your basement walls. Fifteen paintings capture these walls and the fascinating details of chips, scrapings, holes, doodles, lines, graffiti, and paint. There are memories and traditions within these expressive walls. Maria Hirsi shares an intimate story in each canvas—stories about dysfunction, the commitment to family, compassion, and pathways to reconciliation. In making these paintings, she hopes others can see their own basements and homes represented.

Hirsi explores a variety of traditional media (acrylic paint, graphite, oil and chalk pastel, watercolour, and charcoal), yet she’s unafraid to experiment with untraditional media (instant coffee and aerosol deodorant). For Hirsi, artwork is about process. When creating this series, she started with photographing intriguing sections of her basement walls. Hirsi translated these images to a canvas surface, and through mixed media, was able to capture the movement, depth, and texture of her childhood reserve home. Hirsi plays with colour and loose mark-making, creating an energetic surface that is hard to look away from. Each piece has a short description and distinct memory and emotion associated with it.

These paintings are inspired by Hirsi’s Granny’s home in Meath Park, and they also relate to the homes of her cousins in Wahpeton and James Smith. For Hirsi, the reserve basement is a starting point for conversations surrounding family, race, identity, and reconciliation. Hirsi would like to thank her teachers and mentors for believing in her and encouraging her to start and finish this body of work.


Installation shot, 2020

Featured Artworks

Artist Talk Video

View the video of Maria Hirsi's Reception & Artist Talk, held in the John V. Hicks Gallery on August 17, 2020. His Honour, the Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan Russell Mirasty brought greetings to open the reception. Maria recites her powerful poem, "Halfbreed," speaks about her work, and introduces her teacher, Melanie Mirasty.

The Mann Art is located on Treaty 6 territory, the traditional territory of Cree Peoples and the homeland of the Metis Nation

© 2020 by the Mann Art Gallery Inc.

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142-12th Street West, Prince Albert SK, S6V 3B5

Treaty 6 Territory & homeland of the Metis Nation