VCA Art Grad Show 2019

Consisting of a series of beaded projects and installation, my body of work draws upon Indigenous arts practices, cultural practices, and mentorship. These works are part of a larger body of work created as part of my MFA research thesis. They are an interconnected web, joined through either material or contextual relationships and framed by Indigenous methodologies, creating partnerships between my art practice with Indigenous methodologies and frameworks.

In my thesis, I focus on a selection of artwork produced for my Master of Fine Arts research project. They are; Ground in Stone, Spirit Threads, Flora, Bad Medicine, and Blak Apothecary. Showing in the VCA Grad Art Show 2019, are the forsworks Flora, Ground In Stone, and Spirit Threads. These works were created from 2018 to 2019 between Australia and Canada, using materials gathered from both countries. The artworks are heavily influenced and directed by an Indigenous framework: focusing on connection to land and family, ways of being and knowing, and the importance of materials and materiality. This focus aids my intent of maintaining and preserving traditional knowledges and practices which stem from my familial experiences, while acknowledging the transnational context in which I live and practice. Photographic documentation is used to documents the creative work. In the thesis, I consider the context of making the artwork, the background, materials, techniques, and discuss the themes and documentation strategies surrounding the work.

The aim of the artwork is to aid in the breakdown of colonial, ethnographic classification of Indigenous art as either traditional or contemporary. At the same time, it provides an example of the relational nature between experiencing and the effect of the work. My intention is to enable the emotion and experience of my work to command the forefront of the viewer’s attention and create an opportunity for the physicality of the work to be shifted into a secondary position. I believe generating the emotion imbued within will allow for the body of works to be experienced as a whole before it can be considered or analysed individually.

Enveloped within the whole of my artwork I evoke feelings of stillness, calmness, and peace; the gentle, relaxed atmosphere at once an allegory of colonisation, assimilation, and genocide but also of the beauty I find surrounding my culture. This allegory, alongside beauty, creates dissonance between what is experienced and what can be understood. The silence of the work is a non-verbal translation of my nostalgia for home, for a way of being that is at once known and unknown; a suggestion towards the subtle violence that persists as a result of lost cultural practices, and practices which are meant to be familiar but in actuality are foreign and unfamiliar.

With the delicate nature and quiet contemplation of my work I simultaneously protect the viewer who is ignorant to the realities of my story from the brutality of colonisation while creating a space of peace, vulnerability, and healing for those who do. I do this by creating work through compassion which is subtle and unconfrontational in its nature. I see my work as being kind, leveraging tenderness rather than creating work that is loud, boisterous, or confrontational. I refuse to engage with the same violence and aggression used to subjugate and disparage Indigenous ways of knowing and being, becoming my own peaceful protest aimed at informing the viewer while facilitating healing. I see the vulnerability of my work as its strength. While gentle, I find beauty, power, and depth resonating from the silence it commands. The stillness mirrored between itself, the viewer, and the intricate delicacy used in its creation. My work, liberated from the passage of time, creates a space for reflection, forcing a deep unfolding introspection required to understand its depth. I walk with the viewer into Spirit (discussed below), where we are at once confronted with the raw savagery of colonisation and the beauty of my culture juxtaposed beside one another.