Sweat Lodge


Sweat Lodge
86” diameter X 4’ height
Acrylic, plaster, nylon taffeta, light/mirrors, speaker/iPod

This work considers customary approaches to healing in contrast to Western based clinical medicine. Traditionally, sweat lodges were and still are used by First Nations people as a form of healing, but, in contrast, the majority now visit hospitals and clinics for our healing. These medical facilities are typically cold concrete buildings, sterile, clean and monotone. A sweat lodge ceremony is customarily performed in a wooded area, a fire pit is dug into the ground, tree branches are used as framework and a mixture of blankets; fur and bark cover the structure. This work represents the decline of one form of tradition that has occurred within Aboriginal culture. I wanted to unite traditional and present-day by building a sweat lodge using artificial materials not found in nature. The white starkness of the lodge and the artificial light from the “fire” serve to bridge the gap between clinical and traditional healing.

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Aylan Couchie is an Anishinaabe interdisciplinary artist and writer hailing from Nipissing First Nation in Northern Ontario.

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