AGO People’s Choice
Favourite Artwork Chosen by AGO visitors!
From November – February 2015, the AGO asked their visitors to vote for their favourite artwork in the AGO’s collection. Wisdom of the Universe was voted #1. To see the full list of the top 10, please visit the Art Gallery of Ontario’s website.
1. Christi Belcourt, The Wisdom of the Universe
Christi Belcourt, Canadian, born 1966
The Wisdom of the Universe, 2014
171 × 282 cm, acrylic on canvas
Purchased with funds donated by Greg Latremoille, 2014
Artist’s statement: Christi Belcourt on The Wisdom of the Universe
Reprinted from the AGO Art Matters Blog, August 7th, 2014
The AGO has commissioned and acquired an extraordinary painting entitled The Wisdom of the Universe by Christi Belcourt, a Métis visual artist and author who received the 2014 Ontario Arts Council Aboriginal Arts Award at a ceremony held here on July 30, 2014. Below, Belcourt discusses the ecological concerns that inspired the work.
“In Ontario, over 200 species of plants and animals are listed as threatened, endangered or extinct. Of those, included in this painting are the Dwarf Lake Iris, the Eastern Prairie Fringed Orchid, the Karner Blue butterfly, the West Virginia White butterfly, the Spring Blue-eyed Mary, the Cerulean Warbler and Acadian Flycatcher.
Globally, we live in a time of great upheaval. The state of the world is in crisis. We are witness to the unbearable suffering of species, including humans. Much of this we do to ourselves. It is possible for the planet to return to a state of well-being, but it requires a radical change in our thinking. It requires a willingness to be open to the idea that perhaps human beings have got it all wrong.
All species, the lands, the waters are one beating organism that pulses like a heart. We are all a part of a whole. The animals and plants, lands and waters, are our relatives each with as much right to exist as we have. When we see ourselves as separate from each other and think of other species, the waters and the planet itself as objects that can be owned, dominated or subjugated, we lose connection with our humanity and we create imbalance on the earth. This is what we are witnessing around us.
The planet already contains all the wisdom of the universe, as do you and I. It has the ability to recover built into its DNA and we have the ability to change what we are doing so this can happen.
Perhaps it’s time to place the rights of Mother Earth ahead of the rights to Mother Earth.”
– Christi Belcourt
This work is one of two paintings by Belcourt currently on display in the Gallery. In the video below, Belcourt discusses the other, entitled So Much Depends Upon Who Holds the Shovel (2008), which appears in our exhibition Before and after the Horizon: Anishinaabe Artists of the Great Lakes.