Culture Saves Lives: Drum Circle & Art by Alexa Black

I shot this video while checking out a drop-in activity associated with Culture Saves Lives.

Culture Saves Lives

Cultures Saves Lives is a non-profit group dedicated with trying to connect people, particularly marginalized indigenous people, with their culture. While walking past their building in Vancouver’s gritty Downtown Eastside neighborhood. I was attracted by the chanting and drumming coming from within. I asked the guy standing in the doorway (the guy on the far right of the picture below) what was going on and he replied that it was an informal jam, that people were just there to hang out and that most of the guys were his family members and that I was welcome to come in.

Drum Circle at the Culture Saves Lives community center in Vancouver

Art by Alexa Black

Inside the room, —which functioned as an art gallery (The Window Community Art Shop), a performance space and simply a safe place to hang out—the walls were covered with paintings for sale, mainly by a self-taught artist, Alexa Black.

Bone Weaver: Mixed media art by Alexa Black

Alexa Black, an artist of Métis and Mestizo ancestry, usually works with mixed-media, combining oil painting and photography with elements of the natural world: bones, leather, antlers, flowers and feathers. She uses such materials to honor the natural world and its cycles. In nature, many of these element – bones, animal hides, antlers and feathers – also serve as a kind of protection. They can represent the strength and resilience of nature. However, there is also an element of fragility and impermanence.

Mixed media art by Alexa Black

There was a nice positive vibe at the centre, but my daughter wanted to move on to see other things, so I just took a few minutes of video and a couple of snapshots.

Go Further

This section includes discussion questions, an art challenge and links to online photo galleries and websites.

Photo Galleries

Go Further

Three Questions

  1. How do you feel about the mixed media works on this page?
  2. How would you interpret the first work of art, Bone Weaver? What message do you think the work sends?
  3. How can contemporary art, which is often concerned with exploring new techniques and breaking boundaries, revitalize traditional cultures?

Art Challenge

Create a mixed media work using materials from the natural world.

~ video, photos and text by


Return to Artjouer’s Gallery of Artists

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