October 20, 2023 – January 26, 2024

The Exhibit

The Anishinaabe word Ningaaseg, to artist Michael Belmore, means coming to a sudden stop or disappearing into the wind, becoming enveloped into the world. Michael’s work is focused on the Great Lakes environment, land, water, and what it means to be Anishinaabe.

About the exhibit

Ningaaseg, an Anishinaabe word holding many meanings – often used for the idea of settlement, meaning how a rock settles into sand on a beach. Michael’s work is focused on the Great Lakes environment, land, water, and what it is to be Anishinaabe. These liminal sites are spiritually active places. Shorelines that mark the threshold between opposing elements of water, earth, and sky are similar to the liminal states of beings, such as in the dream between sleep and awake. In the Anishinaabe worldview, the universe is understood to be composed of layers. Divided into contrasting upper and lower worlds and zones of power, this tiered cosmos is animated by the ongoing and reciprocal interaction of beings and persons both natural and spiritual.

Ningaaseg, to Michael, means that something is coming to a sudden stop or disappears into the wind, becoming enveloped into the world. Where can we find a place between the wind and the water?

“I have a memory, or collection of memories. I am standing on the north shore of Superior. The beach of tumbled stone, varying in color: reds, whites, blacks, grays, with a smattering of green extends out for what looks to be a mile in both directions. I watch as the foam dances on the surface of the water between the crashing waves. Through the roar of water and wind I hear the subtle clink, clink, clinking sounds of rocks as the water recedes. It is this action, of water continually pressing against the shore that has informed the place where I stand. Rounded and worked together over the millennia these stones bear witness to the persistence  of nature.” – Michael Belmore

The sheer physical world which we, as people, inhabit is at times humbling. Art is an expression of the human body, human mind, and that it is fruitless to attempt to contextualize our relationship to nature on a grand scale. What the artist can offer is a glimpse into how we affect, and are affected by, our environment.

Seemingly small things, simple things, inspire Michael’s work: the swing of a hammer, the warmth of a fire, the persistence of waves on a shore. Through the insinuations of these actions, a much larger consequence is inferred.

 

Through the various processes of erosion, sand is in continual migration. It has been blown upland and washed downstream, it has experienced lakes and rivers, it has created hillsides, it is a witness to how all things have moved and shifted. As an artist, Michal has always endeavored to be fluid and responsive to place. Ningaaseg searches for the wind, for the feel of how water moves around the reeds knee-deep on the shore of a slow-moving river.

Ningaaseg explores our familiar dune and waterscapes while challenging us to see them through new eyes.

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