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The James Black Gallery hosts pod residencies with the intent to strengthen creative relationships within our communities. We offer one month residencies when funding permits it.  

Our first seven pod residencies (2021-2022) were developed in reaction to the pandemic. Originally conceptualized with the intent was around reconnection and creation exploration. For 2023 and 2024, we invited artists to to generate art that delves into the problems, conflicts, sources of collective joy and inspiration that touch our communities. Take this chance to explore collaboration between varied artistic disciplines and embolden experimentation.

Claire Shannon-Akiwenzie, Dakota Anderberg, Jay Sky-Blue Groening, and Mike Alexander

April 2024

This pod is dedicating their residency to honouring their realities and looking forward to a brighter future, with art serving as a powerful conduit to healing. Embracing “truth to the future”, they aim to envision a brighter future, guided by the rich tapestry of their ancestral legacies and the infinite possibilities of tomorrow.


@zaagiidiwin_ Claire Shannon-Akiwenzie (Anishinaabe/Irish) is a proud member of the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation in Neyaashiinigmiing, Ontario. She currently resides in the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the Musqueam, Tsleil Waututh and Squamish peoples in Vancouver, BC. Claire is a digital artist, beader, drummer and Indigenous educator and facilitator. Both art and education are catalysts for capacity building, promoting well-being and facilitating relationship and kinnection. 

@thundercloud924  Mike Alexander is an Anishinaabe artist from Swan Lake First Nation in Treaty #1 territory in Manitoba, currently living as an Artist-in-Residence at Skwachays Lodge in Vancouver, BC, Canada. He is the son of the Diane Tukundum (Swan Lake) and Norman Courchene (Sagkeeng).  Mike launched his journey as an emerging artist in 2016 at the age of 40 and has received several awards and grants exhibiting throughout Turtle Island. 


Mike is a second generation Residential School survivor and a Sixties Scoop Survivor. His art depicts images motivated by his personal healing journey, his reconnection to his family and culture, as well as his evolving understanding of the interconnectedness between all life according to the Seven Teachings.


@blueskyjwgb James Groening, aka Blue Sky, is a Burnaby-based Cree artist from Kahkewistahaw Band on Turtle Island. His artwork documents his journey of healing and growth, as he attempts to revitalize his cultural identity through art making. James Blue Sky Groening, was raised by white grandparents during the 60s Scoop in a farm community in Plains Cree Territory. After meeting his maternal mother, he was inspired to reclaim his Indigeneity. Thanks to the shared knowledge of artists such as Ojibway artist Mark Anthony Jacobson or Anishinaabe artist Saul Williams, James Blue Sky has had a cultural identity revival through the arts with mediums such as vibrant painting and drum making. His work has gained recognition thanks to exhibitions, grants, and workshops. 


@keeshasaurus   Kiesha Janvier is a self taught artist originally from Ontario, based in Vancouver, BC. Her work is inspired by her late father who was an artist and is currently reconnecting with her indigenous culture, with the intention to apply her new knowledge to future projects to keep the culture alive and thriving; Primarily using acrylic, mixed media and digital softwear. She has had her work displayed at small pop up galleries and music festivals. Kiesha continues to push the boundaries of contemporary, eclectic art, inviting the viewers in an imaginative visual experience.

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