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International artist hasn’t forgotten his Sarnia roots

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Tara Jeffrey

A Métis artist from Sarnia with an international reputation has a solo exhibition underway at Canada House in London, England.

Jason Baerg’s interactive show ‘A Path or Gap Among the Trees’ features media projection pieces and laser-cut painting installations at the imposing Trafalgar Square headquarters of the High Commission of Canada in the United Kingdom.

“It really is a 25-year kind of mid-career survey,” said Baerg, a visual artist and media producer who uses 2D and 3D technologies in his work.

Baerg was born in Sarnia, moved at a young age to Saskatchewan with his mother, and returned home for high school.

“A couple of my major influences were at St. Clair (Secondary),” said the Indigenous curator and educator, now based in Toronto.

“My dad taught at St. Clair so I knew the staff very well. L.J. Ireland and Kate Elliott – these teachers felt like an extension of family. They were some of my best friends, those creative teachers. They were fundamental for me.”

Baerg enrolled at Lambton College after high school.

“I took Art Fundamentals with Ray Robinson — he was just a phenomenal talent,” said Baerg, who teaches at the Ontario College of Art & Design University

“Some of the people I studied with, I’m still communicating with to this day. One of the students that was with me in Art Fundamentals is going to be speaking to my class later in the semester.”

Baerg then studied at Concordia and Rutgers Universities — earning a Bachelor and Masters of Fine Arts —and has had his work exhibited around the world.

In 2013 he returned to Sarnia to serve as the Aboriginal Curator in residence at the Judith & Norman Alix Art Gallery (JNAAG).

“That was all about really facilitating the development of relationships between the Indigenous communities — Walpole Island, Aamjiwnaang, Kettle and Stony Point — and the gallery,” he said.

“We brought in some artists, we did some workshops. I curated a solo exhibition of Anishinaabe installation artists.

“It was a really meaningful time. It was really awesome to work in the community and I think part of those interactions too really set my art approaches.”

After teaching at Rutgers University he served as an adjunct instructor at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Baerg is known for pushing the boundaries of digital intervention in drawing and painting, and has worked in the Canadian television and film industry developing documentary and multimedia art projects.

He said his solo exhibition in the U.K. took shape at the Woodland Cultural Centre in Brantford, Ont. and includes some key pieces from his career to date.

“The first two works in the exhibition were actually made at Lambton College,” he said. “It was over three years of planning… and the response has been extraordinary.”

The show at the London gallery is its first since the pandemic began.

“I was so grateful to have the opportunity to have a physical installation and an opening,” he said. “I feel very lucky.”


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