The Wapatah Centre for Indigenous Visual Knowledge is a hub for facilitating the documentation, communication, and interpretation of Indigenous ways of seeing. Drawing on the inseparable concepts of perception and knowing, Wapatah assists Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists and researchers to collaborate on the engagement with and representation of artistic knowledge. Wapatah highlights the innumerable lenses through which Indigenous people envision the world – whether through artistic production, language, or interaction with the land – using each of these as a research tool to form new questions and concepts about the world. Wapatah promotes Indigenous research and collaboration at multiple scales, through Indigenous-led projects at OCADU and the creation of connections and partnerships at a global level.
Research at Wapatah activates Indigenous ways of seeing through four distinct themes. Often interwoven, these areas speak to the artistic, political, cultural, and theoretical scope of Indigenous research.
Wapatah researches the narratives and materials created at the intersection of cultures to understand how such interactions reflect, stimulate, and produce original artistic expressions. The Centre provides a collaborative space for Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars, students, artists, and Knowledge keepers to exchange perspectives and knowledges about art produced in cultural contact zones.
Wapatah acknowledges the relationships to the land and highlights connections between human and natural environments, seeking to understand how artistic production gives voice to these relationships. Indigenous artworks are always rooted in land and Wapatah’s research honours Indigenous ways of seeing and interacting with visual knowledge.
Wapatah uses digital scholarship as a means to enact new opportunities for Indigenous research and impact, and enhance the presence of Indigenous knowledge on the global stage. The centre helps mobilize and preserve Indigenous visual knowledge by supporting online platform projects and digital initiatives that foster dialogues between global Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities.
Wapatah seeks out connections between Indigenous scholarship and artistic practice around the world, and fosters insightful partnerships to develop local and global approaches prioritizing visual knowledge. These connections are rooted in responsibility and respectful engagement with the environment and land ceremony and culture.
This logo, designed by Mariah Meawasige, embodies Wapatah as a multidimensional and boundless space for accessing the complex knowledge of many nations. At once interconnected – forming a deep, interwoven network of knowing – and independent of one another. The logo takes inspiration from topography, star mapping, transmotion, and particularly the Kinomaage-Waapkong (teaching rocks) in Peterborough. The implied rhythm enacts an intertribal dance, not dissimilar to the one required to access those knowledges. Coupled with movement, the triad of symbols represent the many stories behind indigenous ways of knowing.
Wapatah has an extensive history of Indigenous-led research projects and outreach initiatives that critically explore the diverse methodologies and artistic representations of Indigenous knowledge from around the globe.
Ranging from exhibit curation to symposia and publications, these projects seek to centralize Indigenous presence and perspectives in both academic research and community contexts.