Spring is nigh

I have been patiently waiting for nature to awaken from its slumber.
I have scouted for various trees, shrubs and flowers since moving home to Cape Breton.
Even though I suffer from severe seasonal allergies, I cannot wait for the last of the snow to melt away and for all the plants to begin their blooming.
I have several sketches of ideas on the go that require use of natural materials.
I will keep folks posted. Although, I am not usually one to talk about what ideas I am in the process if developing, I will share the processes of the materials that I harvest, in an attempt to encourage others to reacquaint with nature.


CBU’s New Artist in Residence

CBU’s New Artist in Residence.

Interview with Erin Ashley for CBC Mainstreet (Cape Breton).

Tomorrow is Part 2 of a 4 part lecture series that is hosted by Cape Breton University Art Gallery and Unama’ki College.

Come check it out! We’ll have some traditional pre-colonial food samplers after the talk!

Also while you are in the gallery, why not spend some time with Saved a solo exhibition now installed with works by Arianne Pollet-Brannen.

Preparing for Lecture Series as Artist In Residence

Artifact from The Indian Truckhouse of High Art, 2010.

Artifact from The Indian Truckhouse of High Art, 2010.


March 13th @ 1pm, marks the beginning of a 4 part lecture series that is part of my responsibilities as Artist in Residence at Cape Breton University Art Gallery and Unama’ki College

Below is the information from the Press release of the CBUniversity Art Gallery Webpage.


Join us in the Cape Breton University Art Gallery for a lunchtime speaker’s series highlighting the work of CBU Art Gallery/Unama’ki College Artist in Residence Ursula A. Johnson.

Ursula A. Johnson is a Mi’kmaw Artist from Eskasoni First Nation and Alumnae of the NSCAD University. Her work ranges in styles and techniques, including video, photography, mixed media, performance, installation and traditional Aboriginal art forms. Her conceptual works combine images and elements from a multitude of sources that explore and challenge ideas of ancestry, identity and culture.

As Artist in Residence for CBU Art Gallery and Unama’ki College, Johnson has developed and delivered a special topics course entitled “The Role of the Mi’kmaw Basket in Contemporary Fine Craft” which traces the evolution of the Mi’kmaw basket from functional object, to Indian Craft, to fine art, to artefact to archive.

The artist will present four lunchtime talks arranged around her artistic practice and the themes of her course:

Artist Talk

March 13, 1:00 – 2:00pm: Ursula Johnson will deliver an Artist Talk outlining selected performances and exhibitions that have led to the body of work she is developing.

The Mi’kmaw Basket: Pre-Colonization

March 27, 1:00 – 2:00 pm: In the first of two talks about Mi’kmaw Basketry, Johnson uses the basket as a lens through which to view the development of North America and relationships between Aboriginal and settler populations.

The Mi’kmaw Basket: Post-Colonization

April 3, 1:00 – 2:00 pm: In the second of two talks about Mi’kmaw Basketry, Johnson will discuss modern understandings of the Mi’kmaw Basket, and the effect that the artefact has had on the role of art, speculating on what the future holds.  Johnson will also discuss her perceived Re-naissance of Indigenous Art.

Ke’ Pite’m (Please Give Him/Her Tea)

April 10, 1:00 – 2:00 pm: Ke’ Pite’m (Please Give Him/Her Tea) was originally created in 2009.  Johnson will engage visitors in the installation by offering them a cup of tea with a piece of bannock and molasses.
The first of the 4 part lectures series will begin with an Artist talk which will be hosted in the Art Gallery.
There will be various gluten free, vegetarian friendly snacks as well as some tea, coffee and fruit juice.

The gallery is located at 1250 Grand Lake Rd, Sydney, NS B1P 6L2. Please feel free to phone for details: (902) 539-5300



Artist in Residence for the Cape Breton University Art Gallery and Unama’ki College

This is the poster for a class that I am curently teaching as a part of my residency at Cape Breton University for the CBU Art Gallery and Unama'ki College.

This is the poster for a class that I am curently teaching as a part of my residency at Cape Breton University for the CBU Art Gallery and Unama’ki College.



A collaborative durational performance based installation by Ursula A. Johnson and Jordan Bennett.

A collaborative durational performance based installation by Ursula A. Johnson and Jordan Bennett.

Unfortunately I am not very consistent with this blogging, but I will try my best to keep updating every now and again, and perhaps someone can give me some tips. I recently discovered the stats section and was surprised to see the average daily visitation, and I figured I should probably put some new information as to how the art practice is going.

Well, since the last post which was advertising L’nuk a collaborative durational performance based installation which was hosted by the NSCAD Anna Leonowens Art Gallery in Halifax, NS there has bee quite a bit of activity.

First off I want to thank Jordan Bennett my collaborator and my partner Angella Parsons for her awesome support before, during and after the performance. Wela’liek. And a super duper thanks to the staff at Anna Leonowens Art Gallery, what a great team of people they have working there in that space. The performance ran for 5 days for a total of approximately 30 hours. Then the artifacts remained in the space with the music afterwards. The exhibition also conicided with Nocturne which is Halifax’s Art at night festival, this night was particularly difficult for it was our last night of performing, it was out 8hour non-stop day, also the gallery space that we occupied had over 2000 visitors in that evening. It was draining, but awesome all at the same time!

I will post some pics tomorrow.

L’nuk in Halifax

L’nuk was developed by Jordan Bennett of the newly formed Qualipu First Nation in Newfoundland and Ursula A. Johnson of Eskasoni First Nation in Nova Scotia. This piece was developed after a lengthy discussion about being a young Mi’kmaq in a contemporary society where pan-indianism is at the forefront of a majority of First Nations youths and young adults identity. This discussion occured after one of the lectures by the guestspeakers during a thematic residency program on Indigenous Language facilitated by, Mohawk Photographer, Greg Staats at the Banff Centre for the Arts.

The piece L’nuk resulted in an improvised motion activated dance with the materials that Bennett and Johnson sourced from the region that L’nuk was performed. L’nuk translates into “The People” in the Mi’kmaq Language.

L’nuk 2012 will be hosted by the Anna Leonowens Art Gallery at NSCAD University and opens on October 9th. The performance will begin promptly at 6:15pm and will repeat during the week at various times, leading up to Nocturne (Halifax’s Art at Night Festival) on October 13th, where the performance will have its final run from 6pm to midnight (non-stop).

A noon talk will be hosted in the gallery on October 16th, or what Jordan and I like to call “The De-brief”.

Come check it out!


Breaking News – Migration escapes!!

The O’pltek Basketry Series created by Mi’kmaw Artist, Ursula A. Johnson, includes a small collection of creatures that she refers to as Migration. These creatures are symbolic of the Urban Aborginal Populations from within Canada. These basket creatures are currently on exhibit at the Harbourfront Centre. However, there has been some anonymous tips that the creatures may have come to life in some sort of night at the museum sort of way and ahve made their way around the city of Toronto!

Go to Twitter @ursula_johnson for pics so see shots of the critters exploring T-Dot!

Breaking News

Urban Aboriginal Migrant Basketry Creatures take T-Dot by Storm!



Trying to figure out how to be a blogger…

According to eHOW, becoming a professional blogger takes a bit of practice. Obviously the practice of blogging is not something that is my forte. However, I will once again attempt to be a “blogger”. I have also recently joined another social media format of Twitter. With these two new accounts to keep on top of, along with my standard email and the good ole trusty telephone, I think i have my hands full. So I may withdraw from Facebook, for I do not see how I can possibly keep track of all of this technological information of which has been set up to encourage me to share my point of view, along with some information that I am interested in.

By the end of the winter, I may just wish to leave it all (mostly due to the upkeep) and just focus on constructing forms and new pieces for future exhibitions and performances. For this is what I am fortunate enough to do anyways. We’ll see how this new technological adventure works out.

I guess the main point of all of this is to interact and attract visitors. So let’s see how working as my own technological agent works.

I suppose I will come up with some sort of pen name for my “agent” advertising blogging self. Any suggestions.

signing off,


Ursula A. Johnson

Halifax, Nova Scotia ~ Canada

Mobile: 1.902.229.4037 ~


2002-2006 Bachelor of Fine Arts Nova Scotia College of Art & Design University, Halifax NS

1998-2000Theatre Arts Program University College of Cape Breton, Sydney NS



2011 Guest Curator Kloqowej: A 30 Year Retrospective of Caroline Gould, Mary E. Black Gallery, Halifax, NS

2004 Curator Showcase of Aboriginal Arts and Crafts, Kings College, Halifax NS

2001 Curator Aboriginal Youth Art Exhibit, Micmac Friendship Center, Halifax NS


2014 Mekwite’tmn Saint Mary’s Art Gallery, Halifax, NS *upcoming*

2012 L’nuk (In Collaboration with Jordan A. Bennett) Anna Leonowens Art Gallery, Halifax, NS

2011 The Indian Truckhouse of High Art Site Specific to downtown Halifax, Halifax, NS

2010 O’pltek Thunder Bay Art Gallery, Thunder Bay, ON

2004 Kepmidedamnej Nova Scotia College of Art & Design, Halifax NS

2003 Ente’k Nova Scotia College of Art & Design, Halifax NS

2002 Klo’ke’wej Micmac Native Friendship Centre, Halifax NS


2012 L’nuwelti’k : We Are IndianPrismatic Festival, Halifax, NS

2012 Planet IndigenUS Harbourfront Centre, Toronto ON

2012 Snapshot Khyber Centre for the Arts, Halifax, NS

2012 Material Wealth: Revealing Landscape Harbourfront Centre, Toronto ON

2011 Ancestral Teachings: Contemporary Perspectives Thunderbird Centre, Toronto ON

2011 Basket Weaving Debajehmujig 6 Foot Festival, Manitowaning ON

2010 Elmiet Nocturne and Prismatic Arts Festival, Halifax, NS

2010 L’nuk (In Collaboration with Jordan A. Bennett) The Other Gallery, Banff AB

2010 Ka’kawej Art in Public Spaces, Banff Centre for the Arts, Banff AB

2009 Ke Pite’m Time Will Tell Public Performance Series, Eye Level Gallery, Halifax NS

2009 Traditional Mi’kmaq Basketry Tent Dwellers Canoe Festival, Kejimkujik National Park, NS

2009 Traditional Mi’kmaq Basketry Treaty Day Aboriginal Arts Showcase, Halifax, NS

2008 The Urban Aboriginal Guide to Halifax NS Dalhousie University Art Gallery, Halifax NS

2006 Untitled Anna Leonowens Gallery, Halifax NS

2005 Traditional Storytelling Nations In A Circle, Pier 21, Halifax NS

2003 Basket Weaving Nations In A Circle, Dalhousie Sculpture Court, Halifax NS


2012 Artist In Residence, Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery, Halifax, NS

2011 Artist In Residence Klondike Institute for Arts and Culture, Dawson City, Yukon

2011 Visiting Artist, Debajehmujig Creation Centre, Manitowaning ON

2010 Flying Eagle Internship Onelight Theatre Co. and Canada Council for the Arts, Halifax, NS

2010 Thematic Residency on Indigenous Languages, Banff Centre for the Arts, Banff AB


2010 Grants to Individuals Presentation Grant, Nova Scotia Tourism, Culture & Heritage

2010 Flying Eagle Program, Canada Council for the Arts

2010 Grants to Individuals Creation Grant, Nova Scotia Tourism, Culture & Heritage

2009 Aboriginal Peoples Collaborative Exchange Travel Grant, Canada Council for the Arts

2008 Aboriginal Traditional Visual Art Forms Research Grant, Canada Council for the Arts


Ancestral Teachings: Contemporary Perspectives, Exhibition Catalogue curated by Vanessa Dion Fletcher, Thunderbird Aboriginal Arts, Culture and Entrepreneur Centre 2011

Kloqowej: A 30 Year Retrospective of Caroline Gould, Exhibition Catalogue by Ursula A. Johnson, Nova Scotia Tourism, Culture and Heritage and The Nova Scotia Designer Craft Council 2011

Expressions: Canadian Aboriginal Artists, Artist Profiles by Jennifer David of Stone Circle Consulting, Canada Council for the Arts 2010

The Urban Aboriginal Guide to Halifax, NS, Ursula A. Johnson, Dalhousie Art Gallery 2008


2012 Intro to Mi’kmaw Language, Micmac Child Development Centre, Halifax, NS

2011 – 2012 Intro to Mi’kmaw Basketry, NSCADU School of Extended Studies, Halifax NS

2010 Mi’kmaw Basketry, Thunder Bay Art Gallery, Thunder Bay ON

2004-2008 Facilitator/Instructor Various Workshops for At-Risk Youth

  • Traditional Mi’kmaw Drumming/Chanting
  • Screen Printing
  • Traditional Ash Weaving
  • Block Printing
  • Acting and the Theatre
  • Mi’kmaw Language Classes


2011 Basket Weaving, Debajehmujig Theatre

2010 Elmiet, Onelight Theatre


2011 Inside Out Basket, Private Collection of Catherine Wivell

2010 Lean To, Private Collection of Nancy Lowry

2010 Family Picnic, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia

2010 Loki’s Comb Basket, Loki’s Hair Design Studio

2010 Split Basket, Private Collection of Chief Leroy DC Denny


NSCAD News “I am an Aboriginal Artist” Marilyn Smulders, February 2012

The Coast New Traditions Stephanie Johns, January 2012

Visual Arts News Artist Profile Lizzy Hill, Summer 2011

The Walleye O’pltek (It is not right):Ursula A. Johnson A. Arnone, December 2010

Chronicle Journal Stories, political banter seen in art Joleen Davis, November 2010

ARGUS Lakehead University Twists on tradition from Canadian artists Derek Wall, November 2010

The Coast Nocturne spotlight: Ursula Johnson: Elmiet Sean Flinn, October 2010

Chronicle Herald Tonight it’s Party Time Elissa Barnard, October 2010

Blogspot Elmiet: October 16, 2010 David Murray (blog of random volunteer audience participant who scalped me in performance), October 2010

The Coast Call and response Laura Kenins, March 2008

CBC Artspots Featured Artist Profile 2006