Affirm/Nation series


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  • Imperfect Doll (2003-2005)

    A traditional plains-style, faceless doll sits in front of a TV, 'watching' looped images of her own creation. Three affirmative sentences – two in English and one in Cree syllabics - repeat themselves in very small handwriting over the surface of her dress. The first statement is “I am perfect, just as I am”. This sentence is accompanied by its Cree translation (something close to “I'm in a place of beauty, just as I am now”). The statement “There is no word for perfect in Cree” is also written on the dress. On the tv, both an elder and a young girl say the phrase repeatedly in Cree, accompanied by the laughter of young girls.

    Placed in this context, the doll’s 'facelessness,' traditionally employed to help develop childrens' imaginations, expands to symbolize both heightened forms of perception and the inability to see oneself clearly. Traditionally, dolls are an integral part of a girl’s personal and communal education, and as such 'Imperfect Doll' also affirms the important history of cultural teachings and the creative acts of women. The doll and her untranslatable statement symbolize both contrasting cultural perceptions, and a gentle movement toward constant personal growth and self acceptance.

  • Buffalo Basket (2002-2003)

    The basket of a small shopping cart is woven with red willow and domed in a hide covered structure reminiscent of a sweat lodge. The interior, moss-lined nest contains a small video monitor showing imagery of the Buffalo Nation. From a distance, the guttural bellowing of the buffalo bulls can be heard emanating from the cart. Buffalo Basket is, in part, homage to Indigenous plains people’s physical and spiritual relationship to the Buffalo Nation (sometimes referred to as the ‘supermarket’ of the plains). The shopping cart also makes reference to issues of cultural appropriation and the co-modification of spiritual practices.
  • The Most Beautiful Things (2003)

    In this multimedia medicine wheel, a twenty foot long beadwork banner circles four video monitors facing out to the four cardinal directions of the wheel. The affirmative statement ‘The Most Beautiful Things Are Now Happening to Us’ is beaded four times into the banner, in the four colors of a traditional medicine wheel. The same video loop plays with staggered timing on each screen, and consists of ‘reality-looped’ images of the beadwork’s creation, as well as mouths uttering in Cree the same affirmation that is patiently beaded into the banner in English. The translucent beads are illuminated by the glow of the monitors, and hang like a tribal, post-apocaliptic billboard around images of creation and a verbal symphony of hope.

    The potentially barren/fertile earth covering the table, the beadwork ‘signage’ and the positive affirmation combine to create a tableau that speaks of both a commercialized/traumatized landscape/history and human desire and movement toward balance and healing.

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