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International exposure

Paul Bickford
Northern News Services
Published Monday, February 14, 2011

THEBACHA/FORT SMITH - A Fort Smith artist has been chosen to participate in a special exhibit to celebrate the centennial of International Women's Day.

NNSL photo/graphic

Ria Coleman, Fort Smith artist, has submitted a larger version of the pattern used for her unique Metis mini-sashes to a special exhibit in Ontario. - NNSL file photo

An example of Ria Coleman's work will be displayed as part of 'International Women Celebrate!' at the AyrSpace gallery in the village of Ayr, near Waterloo, Ont.

Coleman is excited to be part of the exhibit, which will run from International Women's Day on March 8 to April 10.

"It just so happened that I am the only Canadian aboriginal woman who answered the call," she said. "So it's kind of special that way."

Coleman is also excited because her work will represent Metis culture. The piece she is submitting is a 24x24-inch version of a pattern she uses to create mini-sashes.

"It's a large chunk of weave," she said, adding it will be attached to a canvas for display.

She is uncertain if she will attend the exhibit in person.

Coleman, 41, began making mini-sashes in 1999 as a way for people to show Metis pride and support for negotiations just begun between the South Slave Metis and the federal and territorial governments.

The international exhibit will bring together the work of 100 women from Canada, the United States, India, the Netherlands, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates. Other contributors now living in Canada were born in 10 different countries.

Coleman is not aware of any previous similar exhibit for International Women's Day.

"As far as I know, this is the first exhibit that includes 100 women from all around the world," she said.

Coleman anticipates the exhibit will give her art international exposure, particularly through a book that will feature the exhibited artworks and the stories of the women who created them.

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