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Copper sculpture

Art Forms



by: Audrey Arsenault

I was shocked and deeply saddened to hear about the thread of discoveries of thousands of children’s bodies in total found around former residential schools in Canada. Creating this gut-wrenching work felt like the best way for me, as an Indigenous person, to process this unthinkable news. The assimilated little girl at the bottom acts as an extension of myself: if it were only a few decades ago, I could have been in this horrid situation. She looks straight at the viewer with wide eyes that say “please help me.” The evil grinning nun, with her claw like hand over the poor child’s mouth is meant to show suppression, how Indigenous children were brutally punished for speaking their own languages. The Royal Canadian Mountie has his back turned to demonstrate this irony: how these awful acts of cruelty done to Indigenous people were ignored by these so-called heroes. The way that the maple leaf on the Mountie’s sleeve is upside down and torn in half shows how disorganized my country’s morals are. I made the layout of Ethnocide to have a historical resemblance, however this piece was created in the hopes that my country of Canada can do better in the future. We can learn from the past to start treating one another fairly in the contemporary era. I used the ancient metalsmithing technique of chasing and repoussé to hammer these three low relief figures into copper, and mounted the piece onto maple wood.

Small aarsenault headshot Audrey Arsenault

Audrey Arsenault, Aud Metal, is a Mi’gmag metalsmith. She works mainly with the ancient French metalsmithing technique of chasing and repoussé. In this technique, the metal is hand hammered into a low relief form using a hammer and many lining, doming, and planishing tools made of steel rod as pictured above. Arsenault works mostly in copper and sterling silver, often mounting her work onto maple or pine wood to elevate each design. In her work, she is influenced by her Wabanaki heritages’ beliefs and story of resilience. Arsenault graduated in 2021 from the Advanced Studio Practice program at the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design. She is a 2023 graduate of the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton with a degree in Applied Arts.

In 2021 and 2022, Arsenault’s work was shown in the Wabanaki exhibitions in the Yorkville Village of Toronto, Ontario, led by Gallery on Queen. In Fredericton New Brunswick, Arsenault’s work was shown in Gallery on Queen’s Wabanaki 2021, 2022, and 2023 exhibitions. In 2022 Arsenault’s work was part of Gallery on Tour/Tata, a collaboration between Gallery on Queen in Fredericton, NB, and the Ice House Gallery in Tatamagouche, NS.

She was also part of Craft NB's Beneath the Surface artist residency in Fundy National Park in 2022, with a following exhibition outdoors on the park grounds in the summer of 2023.

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