November 01, 1999
STUDENT CO-CURATES LANDMARK SMITHSONIAN EXHIBITThe indigenous Ainu people of northern Japan--victims of centuries of social discrimination, lost territory and political and economic subjugation--are the subject of a landmark exhibition, co-curated by a UVic history in art doctoral student, at the Smithsonian Institution's Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.
Chisato Dubreuil is being credited with bringing to life the Smithsonian's Ainu: Spirit of a Northern People.
Born to a mother of Ainu descent, Dubreuil was hired by the Smithsonian in 1995. She began directed studies toward a UVic PhD in First Nations art of the northwest coast last year with Dr. Victoria Wyatt.
Chisato and her husband David Dubreuil (an American Mohawk/Huron Indian who left his career to serve as the exhibition's project manager) became involved in almost every aspect of staging the exhibition, the largest and most complex representation of Ainu life ever assembled.
"The theme of this exhibition is a celebration of (Ainu) spirituality, culture, history and art...we are still here and our culture is vibrant," says Chisato.
Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi saw the 300-piece show just after it opened this spring, making him the first Japanese head of state to visit an Ainu exhibition. It has also attracted widespread media attention -- from a 67-page spread in a leading Japanese art magazine to coverage in major U.S. and Japanese publications. [MM]Media Contacts:
Chisato Dubreuil at (250) 370-9299.