Available works range between $ 2,000 and $ 75,000.
“Barry Ace says he is honouring his Anishinaabe roots when he uses cast-off computer components – like tiny resistors and capacitors – to recreate traditional floral designs.” – Paul Gessel, Galleries West magazine, January 2017
“The traditional is remixed in Mnemonic (Re)Manifestations, with sculptures that blend Great Lakes floral motifs and other iconography from Anishinaabe (Odawa) culture with technological components, in effect replicating unique transitions in Indigenous culture.” – Canadian Art magazine, Winter 2016
Barry Ace is based in Ottawa, a member of M’Chigeeng First Nation (Manitoulin Island). Drawing inspiration from multiple facets of traditional Anishinaabeg (Odawa) culture gathered from historical sources, traditional knowledge, found objects and cultural research, Ace creates objects and imagery that utilize many traditional forms and motifs. By disrupting the reading of these works with the introduction of other elements, Ace endeavours to create a convergence of the historical and contemporary. He says, “My textile and paper works replicate traditional Great Lakes’ floral motifs often sourced from reclaimed and salvaged electronic schematics and circuitry (capacitors and resistors) that act as metaphors for cultural continuity (antithesis of stasis), bridging the past with the present and the future. In doing so, my work intentionally integrates traditional cultural art practices, such as beadwork, which is then juxtaposed against contemporary ephemera, breaking new ground as a distinct genre of contemporary indigenous abstraction.”
Ace has been exhibiting since the 1990s, and his work has been included in numerous group and solo exhibitions, including: Emergence from the Shadows – First Peoples Photographic Perspectives, Canadian Museum of History (1996: Gatineau); Urban Myths: Aboriginal Artists in the City, Karsh-Masson Gallery (2000: Ottawa); The Dress Show, Leonard and Ellen Bina Art Gallery (2003: Montréal); Super Phat Nish, Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba (2006: Brandon); 50 Years of Powwow, Castle Gallery (2006: New Rochelle, USA); Playing Tricks, American Indian Community House Gallery (2006: New York City, USA); Home/land and Security, Render Art Gallery (2009: Waterloo); Meditations on Memory – A Metaphysical Dance, Alcove Gallery (2010: Ottawa); N’nisidwaamdis (I Recognize Myself), Ojibwe Cultural Foundation (2010: M’Chigeeng) “m∂ntu’c – little spirits, little powers”, Nordamerika Native Museum (2010: Zurich, Switzerland); Changing Hands: Art Without Reservations 3, The Museum of Art and Design (MAD) (2012 -2014, New York City, USA); Memory Landscape, Museu Nogueira da Silva (2015: Braga, Portugal); Home Away From Home, Ottawa Art Gallery (2015: Ottawa); Mnemonic Manifestations, Latcham Art Gallery (2015: Stouffville); 20/20: Vision and Hindsight, Workers Arts and Heritage Centre (2015: Hamilton); Aazhooningwa'igan “It is worn across the shoulder”, Trinity Art Gallery (2015: Ottawa) and Native Fashion Now, Peabody Essex Museum (2015-2016: Salem, USA).
In 2010, at the invitation of artist Robert Houle, Ace travelled to Paris (France) and undertook four site-specific dance performances honouring the Ojibwa dance troupe lead by Maungwaudaus (George Henry), whom in 1844 performed in George Catlin’s traveling portrait gallery exhibition. Ace’s dance performances are documented in Shelley Niro’s award-winning film Robert’s Paintings, chronicling the life and career of Robert Houle. Ace’s essay, A Reparative Act, written for Houle’s exhibition catalogue from the perspective of a dancer, won the Ontario Association of Art Gallery’s Curatorial Writing Award for 2012.
As an accomplished and award-winning writer and educator, Ace has worked in the milieu of visual, literary and performing arts for over 25 years. In the early 1990s, he was Lecturer with the University of Sudbury in the Indigenous Studies Program, and he was principal writer for the distance education manual Indigenous Arts of the Americas: Retrospect and Transition. He has also written numerous essays on contemporary Indigenous art and artists, including a series of essays on four contemporary Native American artists for Manifestations – New Vocabularies in Native Art Criticism published by the Institute of American Indian Arts, Santa Fe, New Mexico. And most recently, he completed a comprehensive essay, Reactive Intermediates: Aboriginal Art, Politics, and Resonance of the 1960s and 1970s, for (7), a major exhibition of the Indian Group of 7 (Odjig, Janvier, Morrisseau, Sanchez, Ray, Beardy, Cobiness) for the MacKenzie Art Gallery in Regina. He has also written, presented at conference and published extensively on Anishinaabe artist Norval Morrisseau.
From 1994 to 2000, Ace served as Chief Curator with the Aboriginal Art Centre, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC), and during his tenure, he curated or co-curated numerous exhibitions, including the international touring exhibition, Transitions: Contemporary Canadian Indian and Inuit Art (1997). In 1999, Ace and his team won the Deputy Minister’s Outstanding Achievement Award for the development and implementation of a groundbreaking artist-in-residence and exhibition program at (AANDC) that featured an impressive roster of Indigenous, emerging and established artists, including Shelley Niro, George Littlechild, Michael Belmore, Maria Hupfield, Ron Noganosh, Mary Ann Barkhouse, Nadia Myre, Jeffrey Thomas, Greg Stats, Jerry Evans, Rosalie Favell, David General, Roger Simon, and many others.
In 2006, Ace co-founded and served as the inaugural Director of the Aboriginal Curatorial Collective (ACC/CCA), an incorporated national non-profit arts service organization in support of the indigenous critical and curatorial communities with membership in Canada, United States of America, New Zealand and Australia. In 2011, Ace co-founded the Ottawa-based artist collective: Ottawa Ontario Seven (OO7) with local Ottawa-based Indigenous artists to provide opportunities for self-curation, public engagement and critique, and he regularly exhibits under this moniker in Canada and the USA.
Recently, Ace was awarded the prestigious KM Hunter Visual Artist Award for 2015. This award is administered by the Ontario Arts Foundation and given to support mid-career, professional artists who have a reasonable body of work, a fair degree of public exposure, have made an impact in their chosen field and demonstrate an original artistic voice within their artistic tradition.
City of Ottawa; Ottawa Art Gallery; Royal Ontario Museum; Woodland Cultural Centre; Canada Council Art Bank; Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada; Ojibwe Cultural Foundation; North American Native Museum, Zurich, Switzerland; Canadian and International Private Collections