The front yard of a detached house is the most public of private spaces. Often unfenced, it implies invitation, with a walkway for even unacquainted guests—postal workers, trick-or-treaters or other door-to-door types. A front yard can be ornamental, with grass or flowers, real or artificial, and decorative figures that face outward toward the road. Passersby on foot or in cars catch unobstructed views of lawn furniture, mailboxes or porchlights.
The yard is also a meeting place. Neighbourhood children gather here, throwing bicycles in carefree heaps and sharing freezies or watermelon in the summer heat. Parents or aunties sit on porch steps, braiding kids’ hair, swatting away mosquitoes that linger on bare skin. Friends and relatives gather and exchange news or stories both mundane and extraordinary.
Burrard Arts Foundation presents Resistance in the front yard with spitz, cigs, and coffee by Maria-Margaretta, a multidisciplinary artist whose practice merges traditional beadwork with contemporary mediums. Red River Métis from treaty 6 Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Margaretta is currently living on the stolen territory of Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh nations. Her exhibition is the culmination of a summer studio residency at BAF and features sculptural works and found objects embellished with seed beads, alongside video and loom works.
Margaretta’s practice explores themes of memory, ancestral knowledge and knowledge sharing, as well as Indigenous storytelling, by carefully considering domestic settings and objects. Through her beading, she places emphasis on seemingly banal items, instilling them with agency and claiming them as objects of Indigenous resistance and resilience. Juxtaposing her meticulous adornment against small or dispensable items—such as worn clothing, plastic bags, and rubber gloves—Margaretta endeavours to ease Indigenous access to objects of cultural importance while limiting the consumptive gaze of non-Indigenous audiences. With a quiet humour, her works challenge the colonial systems that house cultural objects in sterile archives, often distant from vital community contexts.
Continuing and expanding on these gestures, Resistance in the front yard with spitz, cigs, and coffee posits the front yard as a site of great cultural significance. Margaretta asks whether the front yard, as an everyday space instilled with lived experiences, can be a site of cultural learning and communication. Can it be affirmed alongside more recognized and therefore more readily consumed sites of ancestral knowledge?
Exhibition image by Jake Kimble.