Intertextual: Art in Dialogue


An excerpt from Prison of Grass by Howard Adams was read at grunt gallery on August 3.

CAG artist-in-residence Dylan Miner co-hosted with Amanda Strong an Intertextual: Art in Dialogue reading last week at grunt gallery. Dylan selected two texts to read aloud as a group: the introduction and first chapter of Maria Campbell’s Halfbreed and selections from Howard Adams’ Prison of Grass: Canada from the Native Point of View. Both centered on historical conflicts in the late-19th century between the Métis community and the Canadian government, with a focus on Louis Riel.

The excerpts were in response to Amanda’s show at grunt, which comprised three sets and a collection of dolls from her upcoming stop-motion animation, Four Faces of the Moon. The 12-minute short film will make its world premiere at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival.


More than 35 people were in attendance to listen, speak and learn about the Métis experience, history and culture. Bannock and tea was served to bring an atmosphere of visiting, a reference to Dylan’s ongoing series, The Elders Say We Don’t Visit Anymore. 

Intertextual: Art in Dialogue is a roving reading group held within various Vancouver galleries. The program aims to examine/critique and create/support a community based in text, recognizing the process of selection and concomitant erasure that occurs in any process of representation.

Dylan’s solo exhibition at Gallery Gachet runs through August 28. Click here for more about his practice.



Dylan Miner and the Doctrine of Signatures

Plant walk through Stanley Park

A plant walk through Stanley Park organized by Gallery Gachet and led by Cease Wyss.

I’m leaning against a tree, attempting to commune with it, shaded against the hot afternoon sun in the middle of Stanley Park. The trees represent our grandmothers, but I can’t even recall the species we’re among. Fir? Pine? Oak? I was always terrible with names.

Some people are hugging their leafy grandmothers tightly. I spot several closing their eyes, deep in thought and spirit. We’re in the middle of a plant walk organized by Gallery Gachet and led by Cease Wyss, an artist and self-designated “Indigenous Plant Diva.” It’s hard to not be taken with her charismatic way of speech, which imparts knowledge about the use of things like cedar bark in beguiling narrative. We learn that thimble berries and others in the rose family are good for the circulatory system, for muscle aches and high/low blood pressure.

The early summer walk was an introduction to traditional medicinal plants and what’s known as the doctrine of signatures, or the language of flora that can be read by color, texture and shape. Dylan Miner, an artist-in-residence at the CAG’s Burrard Marina Field House Studio, is conducting research on local plants as part of his ongoing series Michif, Michin (the people, the medicine).

The Métis artist and director of American Indian and Indigenous Studies at Michigan State University is interested in projects of reclamation. He uses social practice to address contemporary indigenous issues. First introduced to traditional medicine through stories of his grandfather’s grandmother, Dylan decided to revive that knowledge and, using his privilege as an artist, engage it within the gallery space.

The series involves gathering plants native to the region where he will exhibit, and creating detailed representations of each. “I think of this as collaboration with people who know that knowledge and with the plants themselves,” he said at a gathering over tea and bannock at Gachet, a continuation of another series titled The Elders Say We Don’t Visit Anymore. “I think plants are sentient beings and have knowledge…I’m not simply harvesting them; the plants are participating.”

Read more about Dylan’s thoughts on plants in Vancouver on Justseeds, an artist collective focused on social, environmental and political engagement. The opening of Michif, Michin (the people, the medicine) will be August 5, from 6-9pm at Gallery Gachet. Dylan will also lead an Intertextual: Art in Dialogue talk with the CAG at grunt gallery on August 3.

For more of his writing, visit the Justseeds’ blog.