Artist’s Inspiration: Erin Fitzgibbon

A dark wooded forest in the background. White overlay text reads Artist's Instpiration: Rites of Passage

We invited local artists to respond to the theme of Rites of Passage as part of our Wall of Art series, a quarterly juried art show produced in partnership with Guelph Arts Council. The submissions received were incredibly varied, as each artist brought a truly unique perspective to the theme. For this blog series, we asked the artists to share their inspiration and the story that their piece tells.

Erin Fitzgibbon- Dawn of Identity

Erin is a fine art photographer of Algonquin/French and Irish heritage. As a child, her grandmother would quietly refer to her family as dark Frenchmen. There was no mention of Aboriginal heritage or culture. It was quietly hidden away under layers of secrecy. Erin grew up not realizing that her love of nature and community was deeply entrenched in her family heritage.

In 2006, Erin’s world was torn apart by the sudden and shocking death of her third son Rory. She began taking photographs of her other children in an effort to freeze time and keep memories alive. She was heartbroken and struggled to find direction in her life. It was during this time that Erin discovered that photography gave her a creative outlet for the expression of her grief. Art was her catharsis. She could love herself in the moment of creation and focus on beauty while the world around her seemed so empty.

This image “Dawn of Identity” was taken when she first tried on her aunt’s ceremonial dress. It was given to Erin in hopes that it would again see use. This moment in time represents the start of something new.

The image was also featured at the first ever Algonquin Art Exhibit. “Finding Critical Mass” took place this past August in Bancroft, Ontario. Erin wrote an article for Windspeaker that speaks to the importance of this event. Link to Windspeaker Article –

It is a piece that signifies new beginnings and a revival of a culture that had almost disappeared. We are now becoming proud and confident in ourselves. We no longer create within a void. We are a part of a community and it began with these first few pieces of art.

Dawn of Identity is on display at Guelph Civic Museum until January 8, 2017.


Posted by Dawn Owen on October 17, 2016