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Art Gallery of Algoma features new exhibition by Indigenous artist

Exhibition will feature works from the late John Laford and other artists; opens Sept. 8 at 7 p.m.
20210810 Agawa Tour Train Ribbon Cutting KA 06
Artist John Laford died in November 2021. In this file photo, Laford stands in front of a four-panel mural he painted for the newly constructed Agawa Canyon Tour Train station. Kenneth Armstrong/SooToday

The Art Gallery of Algoma (AGA) is presenting a new exhibition, Gathering in Honour Maawnjiding wii-Gchi-inenjigeng, featuring art by the late local artist John Laford, Lucia Laford and art from the permanent collection of the AGA.

The art pieces come from the Lafords' private collection, which contains artworks from 1994 to 2021.

The exhibition opening kicks off on Sept. 8 at 7 p.m.

Read below for more information: 

The Art Gallery of Algoma (AGA) is excited and proud to present the exhibition: Gathering in Honour Maawnjiding wii-Gchi-inenjigeng

Gathering in Honour exhibition features art by the late local artist John Laford, Lucia Laford and art from the permanent collection of the Art Gallery of Algoma (AGA) by Norval Morrisseau, Jackson Beardy, Eddy Cobiness, Russel Noganosh and Stephen Snake. The exhibition opening will be on Sept. 8 at 7 p.m. 

This exhibition features wall text in English and Anishinaabe. We would like to extend our gratitude to Barbara Nolan for her translation of the exhibition text. 

The AGA started planning this exhibition with Laford’s daughter Lucia in the early spring of 2022, following his passing. John Laford suddenly passed away in November 2021. This was a huge loss and still is for the local arts community and for Woodland Art in Algoma and beyond. His legacy continues to live through his art and also through the art of his daughter Lucia Laford who is a young artist and arts educator practicing in Algoma and Ontario. 

In this exhibition, we are presenting art by John Laford which has never been shown before. The pieces come from the family’s private collection. We are featuring artworks from 1994 to 2021, covering a large scope of his art career. The last painting Laford painted is 8 and Final Fire. What a profound title for his last painting! 

With this exhibition, we are honouring the past, including the extraordinary, the bad and the tragic events that have occurred on Turtle Island. We stand together to bridge the gaps in understanding through mutual respect. The past cannot be changed, so when looking to the future, we must be mindful, accepting, and open to continuous dialogue. Young artists such as Lucia Laford are giving us hope for a brighter, happier, and more respectful future. The AGA honours the Truth and Reconciliation Day with the presentation of this exhibition and extensive educational programming throughout the months of September and October. A series of workshops starting on Sept. 10 by Lucia Laford will provide educational opportunities for all ages.

“This exhibition encompasses the love and understanding between my father and me. We not only share intergenerational trauma but also intergenerational artistry and strength. I am grateful to have learned all that I did from my father, and I will continue to learn, create and share for myself, our people and the Laford legacy. I love you John Laford baa!” Lucia Laford said.

“Maanda waamdawewin giiwtaashkaagemgad zaagidwin miinwaa nsadwendmowin biitwiying noos miinwaa niin. Gaa go eta ngii-wiijigkendziinaanh wiisgendmowin, aazh go Mzinbiigewin miinwaa mashkowendamowin. Aapji nmiigwechwendam gii-gkendmaanh kina gegoo gaa-miizhid Noos miinwaa go nga-ni-aabji-ndagkendaan, nga-zhitoon miinwaa nga-maadookiin niin nji, gwiiji-bmaadziimnaa miinwaa Laford dibinawewiziwin. Gizaagin John Laford-ba!” Lucia Laford. 

The AGA partnered with VIBE Arts from Toronto to present the educational programs. In addition, a partnership with the Ontario Culture Days will enable the promotion of the exhibition beyond Algoma, especially for Sept. 30, The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation holiday. Exhibition tours and a free Feather Wrapping Workshop are planned. 

Please check Eventbrite to register for Lucia’s workshops.

For more information, please visit this website or call Jasmina Jovanovic, executive director, at 705-297-3769.

About Art Gallery of Algoma (AGA) 

The AGA is a public art gallery serving the city of Sault Ste. Marie, Algoma Region and northern Michigan. Incorporated on July 7, 1975, as a result of tireless work by a group of dedicated volunteers and art enthusiasts, the AGA honours its roots as a community organization with its mission of celebrating culture, educating visitors and enriching lives through visual art. The AGA’s vision is to be a premiere visual arts institution in northern Ontario, gaining national recognition and international partnerships. Over the last 45 years, the AGA developed a significant permanent collection of approximately 5,000 artworks. The focus of the collection is Canadian art, with some examples of American and European art. For more information, please visit

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