Between the Lines series

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  • Words of a Feather (2005-2006)

    A turn of the century wooden desk sits alone in the center of a dark room. A matching wooden chair sits under it, pushed back slightly as if someone has just been sitting at the desk, or in expectation of someone sitting down at it. The desk's top is propped open slightly, and from a distance, soft light can be seen to emanate from within. An eagle feather quill pen rests on the desk’s surface. There are also two small holes in the surface of the desk, designed to hold ink pots. One hole does contain an ink pot, containing golden ink. Buffalo sage protrudes from the second hole. Approached more closely, the desk exudes the smell of earth. The interior is filled with rich, dark soil. Nestled face-up in this soil is a small video monitor. Looped images of an eagle, soaring gracefully, play on this small screen. The eagle’s high, piercing call occasionally fills the room. Seen from any indirect position, the video monitor distorts the nature of its imagery, making the eagle look spirit-like.
  • The Definition of Bear (2005-2006)

    A large Oxford English language dictionary sits in the jaw’s of a black bear’s skull. The bear’s teeth hold the book open to the pages containing the definition of bear. Before getting close, the viewer can hear the book emanating gutural roars, and human voices. Projected video images of spirit-like bears, the source of the roars, illuminate the dictionary’s pages. Accompanying the sounds of the bear, the dictionary definitions of both the animal and the verb ‘to bear’ are spoken in both English and Plains Cree. In the context of the work, these definitions become a wry, poignant, symbolic narrative of elements of colonized Indigenous perspective and experience. The aural element of the work also contains an elder’s explanation of the bear’s role in Cree culture, infusing the work with a dual nature. In addition to its critique of elements of recent (in First Nations’ terms) Native/North American history, 'The Definition of Bear' pays respect to the traditional closeness of Cree people with this animal.
  • Sohkatisiw Iskwewasakay/Strong Woman Dress (2005-2007)

    'Sohkatisiw Iskwewasakay' is a old-style deerskin dress. It is adorned with both traditional beadwork and fringe, and with much more contemporary images of ‘Strong Native Women’, the backbone of Indigenous cultures.

    The dress is based on the style popular on the plains in the mid to late 1800’s, and is decorated with beadwork on the sleeves, neck yoke, and hem. True to dresses of this era, much the hide is left bare.

    We hear the words, “We are only defeated when the hearts of our women are on the ground”, spoken in Plains Cree, and then English. On the exposed hide areas of the dress, projected (still) images of First Nations women appear, one by one, each dissolving in to the next. As each woman’s portrait is present, her name, nation, territory, current home, occupation(s) and/or contributions to her community are heard. The final woman to appear on the dress is my late friend, Kathryn Halprin-Dennis, to whom the work is dedicated. Afterward, the dress stands alone, with no images or sound.

    The plinth that sits in front of the dress contains the projector, and a booklet containing the written version of the audio track sits on top.

    Each of these 'Strong Women' have touched my life in one way or another, and they’ve also had a positive impact on others. I created 'Sohkatisiw Iskwewasakay' to honor these women for sharing their particular gifts and strengths with the world, because we’re blessed to have them. Through action and example, they help and inspire us all to be stronger.

    The creation of this dress is an ongoing process. I truly hope I will continue to meet and come to know other inspirational women as my own life unfolds, and my intention is that this piece may also continue to ‘grow’ over time.

  • Puskwa Moostoos Waskikun/Home of the Buffalo (2005-2007)

    This is a video triptych projected on three screens positioned like 3 sides of a square, creating a room within a room. The Buffalo herd imagery is a combination of footage from the archival film 'Home of the Buffalo' and video I shot myself and post-produced in B/W to create a consistency and timelessness between images. The images are visible from all sides, and the viewer may enter and/or walk around to experience them. The installation visuals are accompanied by a sound landscape of the thundering herds, creating an imersive multimedia portrait of Puskwa Moostoos, who we plains people have always been inseparable from.
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