The Ritual Year | Jess Richter

The Ritual Year | Jess Richter

November 7 - 31st


Jess Richter | The Ritual Year

My current body of work is an exploration of cultural identity through the lens of post-war German-Canadian experiences and is influenced by traditional folk practices of eastern Europe. Incorporating sculpture, printmaking, and papercuts, I weave together aspects of non-conforming folk/occult practices and reassert their importance in forming and negotiating cultural identity in contemporary, colonial Canada.

Informed by folk and occult practices, I use both recognizable and unknown stories and traditions to create strongly narrative work that combines both the historic and fantastic. Macabre imagery combined with familiar iconography create uneasy world that generate anxiety and curiosity for the viewer. My work creates connections between viewers and the innate instinct for iconography we all have, drawing upon rich histories of knowledge and its shifting and adaptable nature. I question how we as a nation define identity, and how assimilation has been used as a tool to control it. Drawing upon familial experiences as displaced persons and as farmers, I look at generational slippage, personal mythology, and collective memory as important aspects that form our identity through both loss and rediscovery.
Jess Richter is a German-Canadian contemporary folk artist based in Regina, Saskatchewan (Treaty 4 Territory). Her practice includes installation, site-specific work, printmaking, and drawing. She holds an MFA from the University of Regina.

Influenced by British, German, and Eastern-European folk ritual and tradition, she recontextualizes these practices within contemporary Saskatchewan to explore the submerged identities of German-Canadians in post-war, rural Canada. Rejecting traditional narratives around Canada’s process of creating cultural identity, she uses empathy and personal mythology to investigate methods of ritual and place to create identity. Engaging with stigma and shame, she creates empathetic narratives around the German-Canadian experience. In her explorations, she is keenly aware of the history of misuse of German culture in white supremacist narratives and creates work and confronts those complexities with care. Her work is strongly influenced by her agrarian upbringing, and traditional folklore around farming practices in Europe.