Geek Speak: Tania Willard, curator of Beat Nation: Hip Hop as Indigenous Culture

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      Tania Willard says on-line art exhibits have a lot of advantages over gallery shows. But recently the 33-year-old Secwepemc artist, designer, and curator has been doing more of the latter.

      Willard, who was born in Kamloops and lives in Vancouver, is the new resident curator at grunt gallery (116-350 East 2nd Avenue). With performance artist Skeena Reece, she curated grunt’s latest on-line project, Beat Nation: Hip Hop as Indigenous Culture, which features visual art, videos, music, and writing. The Web site launched on June 26, along with a smaller gallery show that runs until August 1.

      In my home community, on my reserve, we can only get dial-up. There’s no cable. There’s no fast Internet—and that’s just outside of Chase, B.C. So, there’s a number of places that are not connected, or people have to go to just their local library or something. So, as much as in the city of Vancouver we take that for granted, there’s still a number of aboriginal communities that are not connected.

      But there’s also some interesting things going on. The First Peoples’ Heritage, Language and Culture Council, they’re a body that funds aboriginal-languages projects, and they have an on-line language site, where they’ve archived good chunks of languages—First Nations languages—across B.C. That’s a really exciting project and I think a visionary kind of project for how tradition and culture and the on-line environment can coexist and complement each other.

      Every Friday, Geek Speak catches up with someone in Vancouver’s technology sector, video-game industry, or social-media scene. Who should we interview next? Tell Stephen Hui on Twitter at