virtual exhibits

Quilt Ojar

Circles on the Water


15 April 2022

Quilt Ojar is a collaborative creation of the Arctic Indigenous Virtual Artists Network (AIVAN) and the Arctic, Remote and Cold Territories Interdisciplinary Center (ARCTICenter).
When the rock drops into the water, it creates water circles. This is what the Kildin Sámi word Ojar means. As the circles on the water diverge from the rock, the islets of Indigenous knowledges come together in this quilt to speak the stories of the artists and their homelands. 

The idea for this project belongs to Mary Youngbear, a Meskwaki artist.

Quilt Ojar starts with the center piece that represents a Sámi hearth surrounded by the stories from Meskwaki, Eveni, Evenki, Yukagir, Itelmen, Koryak, Selkup, Khanty, and Nivkhi Peoples. It was born out of our virtual gatherings during COVID lockdown and represents islets from different parts of Northern Russia and the prairies of the Turtle Island. Each islet embodies its own knowledge system or a collaboration of different systems and talks about the diversity of human and non-human relationships.

Quilts have diverse meanings and uses in Indigenous communities.  

They protect from cold and wet weather, from bad spirits and negative energy, and they provide comfort and safety. To receive such a blanket as a gift is a great honor. Quilting techniques are often used to narrate social injustice and inequality, as well as to record the history and important events of the People. 

The Quilt Ojar project helped Indigenous artists across the borders come together to share their visions on sustainability, share their skills and technologies, and also support each other through the 2019 lock down.  In creating the islets, we used a wide variety of materials: salmon skin, reindeer fur, eco-leather, felt, beads, cattail, dough, birch bark, etc. Each artist had an autonomy over which story they want to share with their islet, in which form, and technique.

Please enjoy the tour into the world of Indigenous islands.


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