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Red Thorn

I create works on paper that celebrate my Indigenous heritage and honour plants as the basis of life on earth.

My recent work honours my mother Anita and my maternal grandmother Clémence.

In an effort to keep her 15 children out of residential school, Clémence vehemently denied her Métis heritage. Assuming French identity - and instructing her children to do the same – she spurned her language (Michif and Cree), most of her cultural practices, and her ancestral ties to founding members of the first Métis Nation. Sadly, her shame sometimes expressed itself as hostility against Indigenous People. 

Clémence’s children and grandchildren were also denied this rich Métis heritage, but the truth leaked out. Sweetgrass in the glove compartment of grandma’s 1964 Mustang and my mother’s claims that “some of our ancestors arrived on the boat, and some of them met the boat”, told another story.

As a process-based artist, I harvest plant material - leaves, acorns, thorns, berries and reeds – to make iterative works. Working intuitively, I dissect, recombine, photograph, and then scale digital images before printing them on paper. The printed images are then embellished using women’s traditional handwork (stitching, braiding, weaving, embroidering, beading or hand tinting). These embellished pieces are photographed, scaled, further transformed and used as building blocks for larger works.

When I harvest plant material I celebrate time spent with grandma and mom in the bush. Through sorting, grading and preserving the plants as digital images, I re-enact ancestral food-and medicine-gathering practices. When I use the images to make art, I dwell in the presence of my ancestors. By bringing dying plant material back to life in highly organized aesthetic works, I salvage pieces of our family history.