Smokes, Sings Loud

February 4 – March 12, 2022
Artist Talk, Exhibition

About the Program

Smokes, Sings Loud celebrates the wit, wisdom, and warmth of NDN Aunties through the work of Lori Blondeau (Cree/Saulteaux/Métis) and Michelle Sound (Cree and Métis), two artists whose work draws from and feeds back into deep and embodied community connection. Featuring Blondeau’s 1999 performance work Bleached, and Sound’s Deadly Aunties series from 2021, the exhibition looks across time and relations to make connections between the fierce, close care among kin with meaning in the wider world: that this love, in all its toughness, humour and tenderness, is also resistance.

Chosen family and ‘art aunties’ to so many, Blondeau and Sound make work that celebrates the matriarchs in their lives, a continuum of which they themselves are part of. Together they have done much to create possibilities and guide their communities,  keeping their kin out of the bad trouble—and nudging them into the good kind.  As a resistant (reluctant?) archetype, Auntie shows you the way from an early age, they teach you how to be tough as leather and soft as rabbit fur. When you think you know everything there is to know they put you in your place with a side-eye or a one-liner, and then they generously teach you more. In this spirit, Smokes, Sings Loud presents new and archival works that speak across generations, with razor-sharp wit and style to match.

Pairing a contemporary sculptural textile practice with performance from the grunt archive, the exhibition considers meaning in memory: how a piece of fabric, a pattern, a song, or a smell might evoke a story or a feeling with no beginning or end but that is no less telling for it. Blondeau’s Bleached reminisces on matrilineage, internalized racism, and nitpicking get-togethers with touching sentimentality and astringent humour. Sound’s Deadly Aunties series is a material homage to auntie’s closet: buckles, fringe, and big cat prints on fierce fits for a night out or a run to the gas station for smokes. Sharing space, these works invite one into the sphere of the bold domestic, and offer a chance to reflect on and pay respect to those who looked out for you. Here, struggle transforms, shines bright. An online artist talk was presented on February 24, 2022.


Accessibility Support: Keimi Nakashima-Ochoa
Accounting: Linda Gorrie
Administration: Meagan Kus
Archives: Dan Pon and Jessica Fletcher
Communications: Katrina Orlowski
Gallery Assistant: Hedy Wood
Grantwriting Support: Mary Ann Anderson
Installation/Preparator: Kay Slater
Photography: Dennis Ha
Programming: Vanessa Kwan and Whess Harman
Tech: Sebnem Ozpeta


2022.0204 SMO

Related program

Bleached (Related)


grunt gallery (second location)
116-350 E. 2nd Ave, Vancouver, BC, Canada, V5T 4R8
Unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) and səlilwətaɬ/selilwitulh (Tsleil- Waututh) Nations
​​In copyright. For uses beyond Fair Dealing, research requests, corrections, takedown requests, or other inquiries, please contact grunt gallery:

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