“Studio sísp̓l̓k̓ Gallery: Indigenous Art, Culture, and Connection”

Studio Sisplk Gallery logo, cedar branches in a circle

Discovering Cultural Bliss

Have you ever stumbled upon a place that not only feeds your artistic soul but also enriches your understanding of Indigenous traditions? Welcome to the captivating realm of Studio sísp̓l̓k̓ Gallery Inc., where creativity intertwines with culture. Where every brushstroke tells a story of heritage and healing.

Let's embark on a journey to explore this dynamic and enlightening space that celebrates the Syilx traditions and offers a unique blend of art, education, and connection with the land.

An Idea is Born

In the warm embrace of a beach house studio, Studio sísp̓l̓k̓ Gallery Inc. was born in June 2023. The brainchild of the visionary Mariel Belanger is a member of the Okanagan Indian Band and has dedicated the last ten years to researching colonial land grabs in the Okanagan. Mariel locates her family connections to settlerhood and the first white ranchers of the Okanagan through the lineage of her grandmother, Mary Abel. Using ethnographic historical documents and recordings to map the archives for family-specific songs, stories, and lived experiences of the Syilx people at the Head of the Lake, Mariel’s research centres on identity through the lens of Indigenous ways of knowing and being in the world, customary law, Indigenous feminism, smi7may7 Syilx performance theory, intersectionality, the effects of being ‘half,’ and exploring how cultural identity is rebuilt through oral history and performance practice.

Mariel's journey started in 2022, with a heartfelt desire to create a haven that preserves the rich Syilx traditions. The studio's genesis was fueled by Mariel's mission to mentor her daughter while championing First Nations sovereignty and their shared passion for land-based activities.

An Innovative Drive and Lasting Heritage

Studio sísp̓l̓k̓ Gallery Inc. is not just a physical space; it's a testament to a resilient spirit and an enduring legacy. Mariel's journey of transformation began after a life-altering car accident in 2015. This horrific event led her to embark on a master's degree in performance theory. Through her research, she uncovered the power of Embodied Story Practice. It is a unique approach rooted in tule reed harvest and natural law.

This unique practice dismantles the stigma surrounding disabilities and mental health, illuminating a path to self-discovery and healing. The reeds, once used for creating village structures and functional items, now embody a journey of self-governance, cultural reclamation, and environmental stewardship.

A Space for Healing and Connection

Studio sísp̓l̓k̓ functions as a small distribution and creation space for artists and clients wanting to learn ethical engagement and situational awareness with Syilx guest protocols in situ. Through workshops and one or two-week artist residencies, clients will access amenities and finally host their own pop-up exhibition. Artists will be provided access to a small workshop situated on the picturesque beach of Okanagan Lake. They will be able to select natural materials and have opportunities to learn ethical harvesting practices of local materials with mentorship in guest protocols.

Studio sísp̓l̓k̓ Gallery Inc. is not just a gallery; it's a safe haven where artists and visitors alike immerse themselves in the profound synergy of art, culture, and land. Mariel's syilxcentric pedagogy fosters a deep connection with the environment, inviting visitors to engage in meaningful discussions and authentic sharing. The concept of "sqilxw cawt," which translates to "in consensus with all our relations," guides interactions and encapsulates the essence of the unity between all beings.

The gallery's pop-up events offer a glimpse into a world where past and present are brought together through captivating artwork, Indigenous teachings, and shared experiences. Through these encounters, Studio sísp̓l̓k̓ Gallery Inc envisions a future where culture, language, and genuine relationships contribute to a just and equitable society.

A Vision of Growth and Transformation

Studio sísp̓l̓k̓ Gallery Inc's aspirations extend far beyond its current boundaries. With dreams as vast as the land itself, the gallery envisions a barndominium and a flourishing food forest on the 12-acre property. This visionary endeavour directly aligns with their dedicated commitment to soil regeneration practices. Additionally, they are deeply rooted in Indigenous food traditions. This effort serves to further bridge the gap between the wealth of ancestral wisdom and the principles of modern sustainability.

As the gallery evolves, the online realm beckons. A future e-commerce site promises to make its curated creations accessible to a broader audience. The new site holds the potential to illuminate the beauty of Indigenous art and culture to a global audience.

Join the Journey

Studio sísp̓l̓k̓ Gallery Inc beckons you to join its journey of discovery, healing, and transformation. Through vibrant art, immersive experiences, and a profound connection with the land, the gallery stands as a testament to the enduring spirit of Indigenous traditions. It's a space where stories are woven, cultures are celebrated, and hearts are opened.

At Studio sísp̓l̓k̓ Gallery, artists find empowerment through:

  • Mastering Skills and Business: Unlock grant opportunities and navigate the art business landscape.
  • Connecting with Audiences: Deepen viewer engagement for lasting artistic impact.
  • Expanding Art Horizons: Discover effective strategies to share work across diverse platforms.
  • Building Creative Alliances: Network with fellow artists, sparking collaboration and innovation.
  • Showcasing and Sales Platform: Exhibit and sell creations, supporting artists' journeys and the gallery's growth.

Embrace the invitation to "find your story on the land." Let Studio sísp̓l̓k̓ Gallery Inc be your guide on a transformative journey of self-discovery and connection with the world around you.

Connect with Studio sísp̓l̓k̓ Gallery Inc. on Facebook, and check out their website to keep an eye out for their enchanting pop-up events. Step into a world where art, culture, and nature harmonize. A world where your soul can be nurtured by the timeless wisdom of the Syilx traditions.

Mariel Belanger is doing inspiring and innovative things. We can’t wait to see what she does with her future. Let’s make sure we keep our eyes on her and support Indigenous women like Mariel and others in our communities. Follow her journey on Instagram HERE. Also, take a look at her credentials and long list of achievements HERE.

Watch the documentary Horse Woman directed and produced by Mariel Belanger HERE.

Follow her Horse Woman Doc. on Instagram.

Thanks for being a part of this community and supporting Indigenous businesses through these blogs. We appreciate you!

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