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Grenfell Connects

Alumni profile: Coming full circle

Jordan Bennett
Visual arts, 2008

Since he graduated from Grenfell, Jordan Bennett has been working hard at building his career as an artist. He's exhibited his work nationally and internationally, and has taken part in artist residencies in Canada, the US and Australia. He's travelled - working, seeing art, and meeting artists from different parts of the world along the way. But his latest exhibition brings him back home and full circle to his first days as a visual arts student at Grenfell Campus.

Bennett grew up in Stephenville Crossing, a small town on Newfoundland's Port au Port Peninsula. The Grenfell Art Gallery was the first "real" gallery he'd ever been in. "I remember being very excited. And now I have a show here," he said. "Being away from Newfoundland gave me a chance to reflect on this place. But this exhibition is based on this land and culture and its nice to bring the work back here."

Wije'wi (Come with Me) is his first solo exhibition at Grenfell Campus and while much of the work has been shown elsewhere, it's the first time the pieces will be presented in Newfoundland.

The show grew from his Masters studies at University of British Columbia and includes paintings on wood, a series of drawings, and woodcarvings with an interactive audio component. Bennett uses known Beothuk and Mi'kmaq visual patterns, symbols and colours to create landscapes representative of Newfoundland.  In his artist statement for the show he said, "Through observing and spending time with Beothuk as well as Mi'kmaq objects I've created a series of landscapes that aim to tell the story and journey of our people on the island of Ktaqamkuk (Newfoundland)."

As a Mi'kmaq multi-disciplinary visual artist, Bennett is deeply connected with his home and ancestry. In many ways, these connections extend to Grenfell. "My time at Grenfell has a lot to do with where I am now. When I started my focus was on photography but then I got into sculpture and interactive art." He said that the professors and visiting artists at Grenfell exposed him to different mediums and subject matters. "I learned I can make work about who l am and where I came from and have people from around the world enjoy it. It was eye-opening to see that and be mentored by those people."

He also formed lifelong friendships and has daily contact with some of the people he met at Grenfell. Whenever he can, he likes to involve those friends and their expertise in his projects. "I met the most important people in my life," he said.

When asked what advice he has for someone who is considering Grenfell he simply said, "Do it. Definitely. It's a great place to go to school."

Jordan Bennett: Wije'wi (Come with Me) is on at the Grenfell Art Gallery until September.

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