Media Release from City of Fredericton: City Commissions Major Work by Indigenous Artist for Airport

City Commissions Major Work by Indigenous Artist for Airport

The City of Fredericton has commissioned a major work from well-known Indigenous artist Percy Sacobie. The work created by Mr. Sacobie, a Wolostoqiyik from St. Mary’s First Nation, will be on permanent loan from the City to the Fredericton International Airport and occupy a large, prominent space in the departures area.

“This beautiful commission by the City is meant to recognize and celebrate the culture of the Wolostoqiyik people who have lived for millennia on the lands along the Wolastoq (Saint John River). We are committed to strengthening our relationships with Indigenous Peoples and commissioning this artwork is just one step among many we intend to take,” said Mayor Kate Rogers.

Percy Sacobie is a multidisciplinary artist practicing his craft for over 25 years. Known for its rich and moving colourful images incorporating Indigenous stories and living histories, his work is heavily influenced by his Wolastoqey ancestry, historic materials, beadwork, and carvings. An exhibition of his work was recently presented at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in 2019.

“This artwork will be a visual representation of the deep cultural and spiritual ties the Wolastoqey have to our territory. We continue to welcome visitors to join us in developing a connection to these unceded lands,” said Chief Allan Polchies.

For the Fredericton International Airport, the piece will provide a signature ambience.

“The Fredericton International Airport is the first and last impression visitors have of our region, and we’re so excited that this work by Percy Sacobie will be prominently featured in the departures lounge, showcasing the work of this tremendous local artist and celebrating the rich culture of the Wolostoqiyik people,” said Johanne Gallant, President and CEO of the Fredericton International Airport Authority. “Our thanks go out to the City of Fredericton and the Beaverbrook Art Gallery for their support, and especially to the City of Fredericton for commissioning this important artwork.”

The City’s airport commission is valued at $70,000.  The Beaverbrook Art Gallery is partnering with the City to install the large artwork properly when is it completed late in 2022. The artwork will be 8ft high x 24ft wide and take over a large wall space at one end of the departures area.

“I can think of no better artist than Percy Sacobie to have a large art installation greeting people at the Fredericton airport,” said John Leroux, Manager of Collections and Exhibitions of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery. “Beyond being a highly dedicated artist with a unique voice and style, he is immensely proud of his Indigenous heritage and his connection to the landscape of this special place. These will come through beautifully in his planned artwork. It is an honour to be able to assist in this project.”

The idea for a commission has been contemplated for over two years. A working group established by the airport to look at local art that would bring a sense of place to the airport’s new space conceptualized the idea for a major commissioned work by a prominent local Indigenous artist as part of the Airport expansion.

The working group included staff from the City, the airport, and the Beaverbrook Art Gallery. City staff then brought the idea forward to Fredericton City Council, which enthusiastically endorsed the proposal.

The City and the Airport agreed to the commission and loan as part of the opening of the newly expanded arrivals & departures terminal at the Fredericton International Airport.

The location was chosen specifically so that the artwork will be a major focal point in the newly expanded Fredericton International Airport and express the value our community places on artistic culture generally and Wolostoqey culture specifically.

“It’s going to be spectacular,” added Mayor Rogers.