by Zoe Todd
Saskatoons. The fat, dusty purple-blue berries that proliferate the slopes of the river valley, where the sun falls from dawn to dusk while the sîpiy (river) water flows past. Berries that bear witness to sohkeciwan (strong, flowing current): the veins of water that wind all the way from the mountains to the ocean, tying Edmonton (Amiskwacî), our home in the Beaver Hills, to the heavens and the earth. Seeds of life and joy that burst in your mouth, testaments to the sun, the air, the water and warm mud from which they grow.
Memories of picking berries with my family wind along languid summer afternoons. Seeking out the best berry spots while cyclists and joggers flash past, unaware. The knowledge that these berries were here long before us, and will persist long after.
All nêhiyawêwin (Plains Cree) words sourced from The Online Cree Dictionary: creedictionary.com



Dear friends,
You're invited to Gastrosophy, an exhibition about the art and science of good eating. I am one of seven artists exploring the social, political and cultural functions of food in this exhibit.

They examine themes of its substance, social value, personal and cultural experiences, rituals of preparation and consumption and issues related to global production and distribution across media. Ultimately, the question that binds all of these artists together is: “What are we actually doing when we sit down to eat?” — Olivia Chow, Curator

At the opening, I will be performing a piece titled Practical Magick; of Kitchen Witchery where I will be sharing bread and tea in the kitchen space.
This piece explores mundane magic and subtle acts of superstition that are taken for granted in our everyday lives, for example, tossing spilled salt over your left shoulder or using aloe vera. The artwork was inspired by the innocuous doll in my mother's kitchen—the traditional scandinavian poppet, known as a Kitchen Witch, used as a rustic talisman to protect the home and bring good luck—and evolved to encompass references to superstitions, old wives tales, folk magic and ancient pagan traditions.
Because the kitchen is associated with the hearth and is of great importance to folk magic traditions throughout history, I choose to occupy the kitchen space of the gallery, transforming it through performance of rituals like baking bread and brewing tea. In this work, I recreate the space of my kitchen at home by bringing objects from my collection, and creations of more recent origin for the purpose of the exhibition to share with the viewer. I perform the role of kitchen witch—a solitary practitioner of domestic magic and personalized rituals.

The exhibit will also feature a performance of making traditional chinese dumplings. Caution: it may contain flour, meat, shrimp, vegetable, soy, sugar, sesame and traces of peanuts

Join me at the reception tomorrow!
Friday, March 7, from 7 to 10 pm
at The Works Gallery at Jackson Power, 9754 - 60 Ave



The City of Edmonton, the Alberta Legislature, and University of Alberta are flying the pride flag in support of LGBTQ athletes competing at the Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The flag will remain in place on the community flag pole until the games are over. Beginning in St. John's, Newfoundland, the trend quickly spread accross the country to include cities such as St. Albert, Calgary, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and Ottawa.

This week's edition of Back Words is brought to you in part by Colour Your Flag, a community-wide design challenge that invites Edmontonians of all ages to learn about flags and flag design. We want to have some fun, to know how you understand and experience Edmonton. How would you represent the city and your life here through your own flag? What symbols, colours, messages would you use? Go to colouryourflag.com for more information and to submit your own design!


A little contest for you! I'm going to give a piece of art made by yours truly to a reader who knows where in the city this little guy is located. Send me your answers by tagging #backwords and mentioning me on twitter (@BoosChelsea). I will choose the lucky contestant by random draw on Wednesday, February 12. Good Luck!