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Na’gu’set (Sun)

by: Audrey Arsenault

I created Na’gu’set to strive for positive times ahead in today’s society, and especially in my Indigenous culture. Within recent years, the world has gone through a pandemic, and Canada has uncovered the bodies of approximately 2000 Indigenous children buried around former residential schools. These two events left me, among many others, with a heavy heart and anxious thoughts about what the future will hold. However, while I was deep in these feelings of discouragement: I internalized that no one can change the past, but we can take action now to change the future. Na’gu’set represents grandfather sun who gives us our shadows, which are the spirits of our ancestors in the Mi’kmaq worldview. Smiling refreshingly at the viewer, Na’gu’set reminds us of how our ancestors worked so hard to create a better life for us. If we wish to continue the momentum for the next seven generations, that begins with ourselves creating positive change today. I brought Na’gu’set to life by using the ancient metalsmithing technique of chasing and repoussé to hammer his sunny form into copper. I then mounted him onto maple wood so that he can be displayed vertically to face everyone as they walk past. My hope is that he will spark positive thoughts and action, big and small, within anyone who catches sight of him.

Small aarsenault headshot Audrey Arsenault

Audrey Arsenault, Aud Metal, is a Mi’gmag metalsmith. She works mainly with the ancient French metalsmithing technique of chasing and repoussé. In this technique, the metal is hand hammered into a low relief form using a hammer and many lining, doming, and planishing tools made of steel rod as pictured above. Arsenault works mostly in copper and sterling silver, often mounting her work onto maple or pine wood to elevate each design. In her work, she is influenced by her Wabanaki heritages’ beliefs and story of resilience. Arsenault graduated in 2021 from the Advanced Studio Practice program at the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design. She is a 2023 graduate of the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton with a degree in Applied Arts.

In 2021 and 2022, Arsenault’s work was shown in the Wabanaki exhibitions in the Yorkville Village of Toronto, Ontario, led by Gallery on Queen. In Fredericton New Brunswick, Arsenault’s work was shown in Gallery on Queen’s Wabanaki 2021, 2022, and 2023 exhibitions. In 2022 Arsenault’s work was part of Gallery on Tour/Tata, a collaboration between Gallery on Queen in Fredericton, NB, and the Ice House Gallery in Tatamagouche, NS.

She was also part of Craft NB's Beneath the Surface artist residency in Fundy National Park in 2022, with a following exhibition outdoors on the park grounds in the summer of 2023.

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