A member of the Canadian Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) Nation at the Wasauksing First Nation, Ontario, Maria Hupfield is an emerging artist who lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. Hupfield works in a variety of mediums, including sculpture, performance, installation and video. She takes a special interest in places of memory as well as questions relating to borders, power, material culture and identity. Her work is distinguished by the repeated use of thick grey industrial felt. Many of Hupfield’s works recall objects related to Aboriginal culture, such as canoes, ceremonial clothing, bones and traditional bags. The artist’s aesthetic investigations focus on Anishinaabe traditions, which she inscribes in the history of performance art.
In 2015, Hupfield completed Jingle Spiral, a work consisting of a felt cape covered with tin bells, which the MMFA recently acquired. Through dance performances, the artist activated the garment, transforming it into a sculpture in its own right. The bells are placed to create a spiral, which permits the wearer to occupy a central position, like a swimmer or someone coming up for air.
According to the artist, the spiral is emblematic in Anishinaabe culture. For the members of this Nation, it refers to the rippled surface of water from which a panther might spring. Likewise, the sound of the bells recalls the sound of falling water. According to Hupfield, the way that Jingle Spiral is presented or worn can activate symbolic links to both fashion and ceremonial clothing.
Maria Hupfield (born in 1975), Jingle Spiral, 2015, Industrial felt, tin-plated aluminum, polyester ribbon, 168 cm (diam.). MMFA, purchase, Janet G. Bailey Fund
Maria Hupfield wearing the Jingle Spiral during a dance performance. Courtesy of Galerie Hugues Charbonneau