Dedicated to community development, Baerg also founded and incorporated the Métis Artist Collective and has served as volunteer chair for such organizations as the Indigenous Curatorial Collective and the National Indigenous Media Arts Coalition.
According to Statistics Canada's 2016 Census of Population, the Indigenous population included 977,230 First Nations, 587,545 Métis and 65,025 Inuit. Historically, Métis artists have been largely displaced and underrepresented in national and international exhibitions, art histories and institutional collections.
As founder of the Shushkitew Collective, Baerg was recently awarded a $300,000 grant from the Canada Council for the Arts to address these inequities by hosting three large gatherings, including the final at the National Gallery of Canada.
Baerg’s curatorial contributions also include developing and implementing the national Métis arts program for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.
“I originally proposed an individual project to the Vancouver Arts Olympic Committee; they thought I was the right person to champion Métis art contributions at the games,” he recalls. “It was a lovely opportunity to develop capacity and give opportunities to some established and emerging artists in the Métis community.”
‘An important time in my life’
Fashion is art, says the award-winning Toronto-based fashion designer. And Baerg should know: As an interdisciplinary artist, he advances digital interventions into performative spaces of drawing, painting and new media installation. Solo exhibitions of his artwork include the Concordia's FOFA Gallery, the Illuminato Festival in Toronto, the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia and the Digital Dome at the Institute of the American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Baerg’s artwork will be on display in the Canadian pavilion at Expo 2021 Dubai, which opened in October 2021. Jason Baerg: Tawâskweyâw ᑕᐋᐧᐢᑫᐧᔮᐤ / A Path or Gap Among the Trees, a 25-year retrospective of his practice, also opened in October at Canada House, home of the Canadian High Commission in the United Kingdom, in London’s Trafalgar Square.
Currently an assistant professor in the Faculty of Arts at OCAD University in Toronto, Baerg has previously lectured at institutions like the Whitecliffe College of Arts and Design in Auckland, New Zealand, and at Parsons School of Design in New York City, and has taught at Rutgers University.
Baerg says that his studies at Concordia influenced his work: “I was very happy to go to Concordia; it was actually very good timing in my artistic development,” he says. “During my studies, I worked as a bartender on Crescent Street, which also influenced my art making. Being a student at Concordia and living in cosmopolitan Montreal was an important time in my life and enabled me to come out and travel frequently to New York City.”
In addition to teaching, Baerg is currently producing new art and designing his next fashion collection for Ayimach_Horizons. “Truly, I am honoured and excited to do this work!”