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Artist and performer Santee Smith

Talking Earth

Fri June 10, 2022 9:15 pm - 10:00 pm

As part of ArtworxTO

Generously supported by Barry and Lindy Green

Free. No registration required.

The International Ceramic Art Fair (ICAF) marks the debut of a new permanent public artwork by Tekaronhiáhkhwa / Santee Smith. The work will be activated in a series of live durational performances on our outdoor plaza.

The performance is standing room only, though some chairs will be available for those who need them.

Please note that the performance takes place outdoors and will be cancelled in the event of inclement weather. Cancellations will be communicated on our website and social media.


The public artwork is an etched ceramic sculpture inspired by a Rotinohnsyonni four-cornered earthen pottery vessel. It is fractured and partially reconstructed, with light shining through the cracks between the broken shards. The vessel symbolizes the disruption and trauma caused by colonization, including the legacy of the residential school system, assimilative policies imposed on womxn, and the crisis of Missing & Murdered Indigenous Womxn and Girls. Moving toward intactness, the vessel evokes the process of re-assembling culture, memory, and ancestral knowledge.


Tekaronhiáhkhwa / Santee Smith is a multidisciplinary artist from the Kahnyen’kehàka Nation, Turtle Clan, Six Nations of the Grand River, Haldimand Treaty lands. Santee trained for six years at Canada’s National Ballet School and holds Physical Education and Psychology degrees from McMaster University and a M.A. in Dance from York University. Santee produced her first choreographic work Kaha:wi—a family creation story in 2004 and later founded Kaha:wi Dance Theatre in 2005, which has grown into an internationally renowned company. Santee’s artistic work explores the intersection of Indigenous and new performance from an interdisciplinary, Konnonkwehón:we (Womxn’s) approach.

Santee is also a pottery designer at her family studio, Talking Earth Pottery. Her pieces have been featured in numerous private and public collections around the globe and in museums such as the Woodland Cultural Centre and the Canadian Museum of History. Santee is a sought-after teacher and speaker on the performing arts and Indigenous performance and culture. Her life and works have been the topic of TV series and films and most recently on CBC Arts – The Move II. Smith is the 19th Chancellor of McMaster University.


ArtworxTO: Toronto’s Year of Public Art 2021–2022 is a year-long celebration of Toronto’s exceptional public art collection and the creative community behind it. Working closely with artists and Toronto’s arts institutions, the City of Toronto is delivering major public art projects and commissions, citywide, from fall 2021 to fall 2022. Supporting local artists and new artworks that reflect Toronto’s diversity, ArtworxTO is creating more opportunities for Torontonians to engage with art in their everyday lives. This year, explore your city and discover creativity and community–everywhere. Visit artworxTO.ca for full details.


Talking Earth: Ceramic Commission
Public Art Commission: Gardiner Museum
Inspiration: Elda “Bun” Smith, Steven T. Smith, Leigh Smith
Concept/Design/Ceramic Sculptural: Santee Smith
Ceramic Sculptural Builder: Jordi Alfaro
Ceramic Technical: Carmela Laganse
Clay Slip: Steven T. Smith
Consultants: Leigh Smith and Steven T. Smith
Technical Build/Framing: Mike Kukucska at Hamilton Scenic Specialty Inc.
Engineer: Azra Ross at Epiphany Engineering
Digital Media/3D Animation: Emma Lopez, Pedro Narvaez at AVA Animation & Visual Arts Inc.
A/V studio: Thru The Red Door
Creation/Production Partner: McMaster Studio Arts, Operations and Productions, Faculty of Humanities – McMaster University
Operations and Production Manager: Patrick Brennan
Technical support/Documentation: James Kendal
Studio support: Troy Coulterman, Briana Palmer, Ana Maria Skrtic, Judy Major-Girardin, Eric Euler, Alex Roberts, Benjamin Cummings
Additional facility and studio support/firing: Sumanth Shankar
Documentary Footage of Steven T. Smith: Ralph Brown at Waterfront Productions

Producer: Kaha:wi Dance Theatre
Creator/Design/Performer: Santee Smith
Live Vocalist/Durational Potter: Semiah Smith
Dramaturgy: Monique Mojica
Musical Score:
Energies featuring the vocals by Jennifer Kreisberg, Impending Doom by Adrian Dion Harjo
Ohnekanos the Waters by David R. Maracle with additional mixing by Donald Quan
Here On Earth – Opening and Duet songs composed and performed by Donald Quan
Kaha:wi Soundtrack – Death produced by Santee Smith with Dan Hill (flute) and Bob Doidge
Clay composed and performed by Jennifer Kreisberg
Music Recording and Mixing: Brody Joseph, Thru The Red Door
Production Manager: James Kendal
Event Assistant: Senjuti Sarker
Event Technical Production: Solotech Inc.

Kaha:Wi Dance Theatre


City of Toronto logo

Canada Council for the Arts

We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.

Ontario Arts Council

Toronto Arts Council