Connect with Kerri-Lynn Reeves at Riding Mountain National Park

The Riding Mountain Artists’ Residency provides professional artists with an opportunity to be inspired and create their works in the park’s setting. In return these professional artists invite visitors to interact with them and uniquely discover the park through their eyes and works.

At its’ heart, Kerri-Lynn Reeves’ work explores the relationship between the social and the material. Stemming from her upbringing on a farm in Southwestern Manitoba. Her work often looks at skill, legacy, and hands-on knowledge. Kerri-Lynn is an arts labourer working as an artist, writer, educator, curator, and organizer. Interested in how the skill of making is situated in our world today, she combines multiple material techniques at a basic level, including various fibre techniques, wood-working, drawing, and watercolour painting with high-tech processes such as digital photography, video, and laser etching. Kerri-Lynn is interested in the construction of social space, the marking of physical place, and the activation of embodied site.

During her time at the Riding Mountain Artists’ Residency, Kerri-Lynn will look at the historic story of Grey Owl and his ties to Riding Mountain National Park. Grey Owl was a British-born naturalist and conservationist that assumed a First Nations identity as a young man striking out across Canada in the early 20th century. Grey Owl was appointed as “the caretaker of park animals” of Riding Mountain National Park in 1931.

“During his short tenure, he built a cabin in the heart of the park in which he and his pet beavers lived,” said Kerri-Lynn. “His cultural mis-representation was exposed shortly after his death, making his conservationist work highly contentious and quickly dismissed despite the good that it did to change colonizing attitudes towards nature.”

Kerri-Lynn takes this historic story as an example of the impact of settler culture on the Canadian Prairies, which encompasses colonial attitudes to land, cultural appropriation, and power-based ideas of place-making.  Deep colonial questions of authenticity, authority, identity, ownership, and the shaping of place, space, and experience are all exemplified in the story of Grey Owl.

“As an artist with a white settler heritage, I am keenly aware of my own relationship to this historic narrative and want to further address my own story through the intentional shaping of a creative non-fiction approach.”

During this project, she will explore Grey Owl story, as well as her own, through multi-centered approaches to storytelling. The physical space of Grey Owl’s cabin will be the focus of the project. Through a series of visits to the cabin, she will reflect on Grey Owl’s story through sketching, reading, writing, and walking-conversations.

Kerri-Lynn has received awards from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Winnipeg Arts Council, Manitoba Arts Council, and Canada Council for the Arts. . She has also orchestrated large and small group socially engaged projects, locally, nationally, and internationally. She holds a BFA from the University of Manitoba and a MFA Studio Arts from Concordia University in the Fibres and Material Practices concentration.

Heading to Riding Mountain?

Members of the public are invited to join Kerri-Lynn and a park guide on a hike to Grey Owl’s cabin on Saturday, July 15th at 9:00 am.  Participants are asked to meet at the Visitor Centre at 9 am and then car pool to the trailhead. Be prepared for an 18 kilometer round trip hike. The hike will take 5 hours with stops and lunch. Hikers should be in good shape and wearing sturdy shoes. Please bring water, a lunch, bug repellent and sunscreen.  The group will return to the Park Visitor Centre no later than 3:00 pm.