a bead, a breath

Carrie Allison

Curated by Katie Belcher

22 Apr to 15 Jul 2023

A bead, a breath is an exhibition that thinks through caregiving, motherhood, intergenerational connections, stories, and memories, through three works My Moon, Our Hands, Our Body, Our Spirit, and BEADZ. My Moon is a stop-motion animation of the artist’s beading, set to an audio recording of her newborn’s breath. Exploring ‘a bead, a breath’ as a meditative approach used to work through the artist’s anxiety of being a new mother during the COVID-19 pandemic. The artist combined images “in a painstakingly laborious way, each bead is laid, stitched, a photo taken, then edited, and finally placed in sequence with the sound of my child’s breath.” A second video work, Our Hands, Our Body, Our Spirit, documents a three-hour performance by the artist at Middle Cove in Ktaqmkuk (Newfoundland) during a 2019 land-based residency through Eastern Edge (an artist-run centre in St. John’s, NL). Critiquing Western notions of ‘Land Art’, Allison carried rocks up a bluff from the beach below to position them in a circle the diameter of the length of her body. She then returned the rocks to the beach, leaving behind an imprint of the rock—her body—on the land. Of this work, the artist writes, “The emotional labour and craft-based labour of Indigenous beadwork artists and caregivers are similarly undervalued, and by bringing together these linked elements of land art and beadwork, I create systems of value according to Indigenous concepts of stewardship.” Accompanying these video works are large sculptural BEADZ, which invite the audience, child or adult, to play or rest as they watch the videos. In both videos, time spent honours anxiety, labour, resistance, and tenderness, connecting the artist to a lineage of mothering—whether that is caring for a child, taking care of our bodies and communities, attending to our practices, or stewarding the land.

Masks are still required at the gallery, please refer to our current COVID-19 Safety Measures. We understand young children may not be wearing masks, and welcome them to the gallery of course! A bead, a breath includes an immersive soundscape that cannot be turned off or down due to the media player used. If you have sound sensitivity, we invite you to wear your earplugs of choice, and we have noise-reducing ear muffs available. If you want to come to experience the videos in silence, please be in touch with Katie at k.belcher@accessgallery.ca to arrange a visit, and she'll disconnect the speakers for your scheduled time.


Carrie Allison is a nêhiýaw/cree, Métis, and mixed European descent multidisciplinary visual artist based in K’jipuktuk, Mi’kma’ki (Halifax, Nova Scotia). She grew up on the unceded and unsurrendered lands of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), Stó:lō and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nations. Her maternal roots and relations are based in maskotewisipiy (High Prairie, Alberta), Treaty 8. 

Allison holds a Master in Fine Art, a Bachelor in Art History, and a Bachelor in Fine Art from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, and has been featured in Canadian Art, Elle Quebec, Esse and Visual Arts News. She was the 2020 recipient of the Melissa Levin Award from the Textile Museum of Canada and was long-listed for the 2021 Sobey Art Award. 



With gratitude as guests, Access is located on the unceded territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.


Access additionally recognizes its location in Vancouver’s Chinatown, an area for the gathering of predominantly Cantonese-speaking Chinese labourers, settlers, and businesses since the nineteenth century. Our gallery borders the site of Hogan’s Alley, an important home to Vancouver’s Black population until their forced displacement through the construction of the Georgia viaduct fifty years ago.


Access gratefully acknowledges the ongoing support of the following funders as well as our committed family of donors, members, and volunteers, for enabling this organization to remain vigorous and connected to the communities we support.

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