Artist: Drunken Paw ( Mark Dicey, Leslie Sweder, Janet Turner)
Writer: Diana Sherlock
Photographer: Dave Brown
Editor: Jim Ellis
Graphic Designer: Glenn Mielke
For thousands of years before colonization, the nations who signed Treaty 7 including the Blackfoot Confederacy (the Siksika, Piikani, and Kainai First Nations), the Tsuut’ina First Nation, and the Stoney Nakoda (the Chiniki, Bearspaw, and Wesley First Nations), as well as members of the Métis Nation of Alberta, integrated visual and material culture into their daily lives to share stories about this land, Moh’kinstsis, the place now known as Calgary.
Comparatively, Calgary’s contemporary visual art history is only a blip in time, and it remains enriched by Indigenous voices. It began with and continues because of a robust group of dedicated do-it-yourself artists, arts administrators, and arts supporters who believe art has the power to share and respond to people’s most deeply held beliefs and values. This map represents an incomplete survey of many of the visual and media art initiatives that have shaped and, in some cases, continue to shape Calgary’s vibrant and expansive art scene.
About the Calgary Atlas Project
The Calgary Atlas Project seeks to recover crucial stories about Calgary’s past and present, stories that illuminate in surprising ways the character and diversity of the city. Forgotten or overlooked stories from Calgary’s history are mapped onto the city’s geography, highlighting significant sites, events, and people in Calgary’s past. Ultimately the project will produce eighteen to twenty maps, spanning the earliest moments of habitation and settlement to the latest re-developments in the East Village.
The first two maps produced showcased Calgary’s LGBTQ2S+ history and First Nations participation with the Calgary Stampede. Newly completed maps explore the history of alternative art movements, labour activism and Calgary’s lost cinemas. Upcoming maps will illustrate immigration waves (as reflected in ethnic groceries and restaurants), Calgary’s architectural heritage, our connections with animals and the notable faces and places of Stampede Wrestling.
Each map has text written by local historians and images specially commissioned from Calgary artists, in most cases artists who have a relation to the history they are interpreting. The Atlas aims to bring a new vision of Calgary to Calgary; to show us how we got to where we are, and who we came to be.
The Calgary Atlas Project is an initiative of the Calgary Institute for the Humanities at the University of Calgary, and is generously supported by the Calgary Foundation. Individual maps are available from Calgary’s fine independent bookstores including Shelf Life Books, The Next Page, Pages Kensington, Owl’s Nest Books, as well as Map Town and Lougheed House. The project is steered by a group of five professors at the University of Calgary: George Colpitts (History), Jim Ellis (English; CIH), Nancy Janovicek (History), Graham Livesey (School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape), and Charles Tepperman (Communications, Media and Film).
In Summer 2020, the Atlas Project was the recipient of a Calgary Foundation Grant. We are enormously grateful for this grant as it has allowed us to hire a project manager to oversee the production of the forthcoming maps and to work on effective distribution schemes for the maps, making sure that they are read by the communities that would benefit from them the most.