By-Products of Assimilation
Altered Sleeping Bags, Glass Beads, Cotton Twine
Installation Views: The Mush Hole Project, Brantford ON, September 2016 and Undergraduate Final Installation, NSCAD University, Halifax NS, August 2016
In cities across Canada, Indigenous people comprise a disproportionately high percentage of the homeless population. Though the causes stem from a myriad of reasons, a known contributing factor is intergenerational trauma stemming from residential schools and similar displacements like the 60’s Scoop and discrimination within Canada’s Child Welfare System, which is still ongoing (Caryl 14). It was within this context that I started considering the sleeping bag as an object which is both a luxury commodity used by Canadians to “reconnect with nature”and a necessity for displaced and homeless First Nation peoples; an object that can connect the history and legacies of residential schools to the realities of today.
I begin by deconstructing new sleeping bags, removing their outer shells. The process is meticulous, calculated, and measured. By “skinning” these sleeping bags, I remove their protective cover, exposing the vulnerable material inside to the outside world. I take away their intended function, imposing my will to change what they are. An attempt is then made to reconstruct the baffles and overall structure of the exposed by-product, stitching it back together with cotton twine and beadwork. I attempt to reconcile the damage inflicted through what is left. It is through this process that I explore the concept and reality of reconciliation.
Caryl, Patrick. Aboriginal Homelessness in Canada: A Literature Review. Toronto: Canadian Homelessness Research Press, 2014.
Stability/Instability: 39 Houses, The Narrative
Plaster and Hydrostone
Unstable Footholds, Inadequate Housing, Relentless
Welded Steel and Taffeta
Things I’ve Lost Along The Way Part 1 & Part 2
Altered Found Object
Unfinished Work – Tribute
Wood, Cheesecloth, Embroidery
it beats inside all who speak for those who can’t
Wood, Fabric, Sinew, Embroidery Floss
The Native Women’s Association of Canada has documented 582 occurrences of missing or murdered Aboriginal women and girls over the past 40 years. Research suggests that the actual number may be over 800. Of the 582 documented, homicide charges were laid in only 53% of cases, leaving the rest unsolved. This is a low percentage compared with the Canadian average. UPDATE (Aug 2015): RCMP figures published since the writing of this artist statement now put these figures at 1122.
For the past 23 years the MMIW (Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women) Movement has gathered women to march on Valentine’s Day to call attention to the missing and to bring awareness to this epidemic of violence.
During these marches, hand drums reverberate throughout the crowd and a heartfelt and powerful song, the Women’s Warrior Song, is sung loud and strong.
This drum, scaled to four and a half times standard size, stands tall and proud as do the women who still march. Stretched across it, the Warrior song, transposed to pattern, is embroidered into a sheath in honor of those whose voices have gone silent. This work stands and is created out of respect for my Aboriginal sisters lost and those still fighting.
For most, childhood holds a sense of exploration, play and security. For some, however, it can be a time of uncertainty and loneliness. From experiences of my own past, I found I learned to take comfort in the little things; the way water dripped off the end of an icicle, the sound of my skates as they ground through lake ice, the sheer volume of quiet that winter brought forth through the muting effect of snow. Observing my surroundings and nature had a grounding effect and connected me to the land, removing me from the chaos of reality.
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.
Wood, Steel & Found Object
Canada’s dark residential school history, experienced by my own grandfather, lives in my memory through stories shared and Native tongue lost. Researching black and white photos of the original school, the sculpture takes its form as a representation of the steeple that stood atop of the structure and embodies what went on inside. Children were locked in at night; their own names were replaced by numbers, punishment for speaking one’s own language was often met with lashes from a yard stick. This work pays homage to the indignities experienced by my elders at the hands of the Canadian and Ontario government.
Sandblasted Medicine Cabinets
Balsa wood, Tissue paper, Light