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"Kawii Otinum" (the name of the solo exhibition at Chapel Hill) translates to "Reclaim" in Michif, the distinctive language of the native Métis in North America. Although only recently officially acknowledged by the Canadian government following years of suppression, the Métis Nation is fervently reclaiming its rich cultural heritage. The recent acknowledgment of my family as members marks the culmination of a lifelong struggle to regain our birthright, which was eroded through generations of systematic cultural suppression. For example, my grandmother was forced to attend a distant and notorious boarding school for re-education, severing generational cultural and familial ties. Since the antidote to the erasure of identity is the uniquely indigenous experience of reclamation, this artwork is essential in that process. 


These paintings merge iconic depictions of North American lands by 19th-century colonial plein-air painters like ‘The Group of Seven’ with narrative paintings of the original peoples of North America. Employing digital algorithms, native motifs, like the buffalo that embodies spiritual beliefs, intertwine with Eurocentric environmental depictions, breaking them down and methodically reconstructing the scenes. The consequent paintings cause the land to quaver as the potency of the autochthonous imagery reshapes the Eurocentric vision, capturing celebratory moments where the land reconnects with its first partnerships.


Analogous to beading or quill work, intricate details echo a slow, meditative process that strengthens indigenous healing through creation. The new visual language seeks to encapsulate the multilayered identities of the land, previously oversimplified by foreign dominance.


Complementing the paintings, sound sculptures further the repossession of the first people's traditions, often appropriated for European products. These artworks subtly whisper sounds and stories of generations whose simple existence is an act of resilience and rebellion. Each artwork extends the chronicles of cultural reclamation as layered elements that work to disintegrate the devastating lens of colonization. This multifaceted approach makes suppressed stories easier to identify, acknowledge, and understand.


*The term Indigenous is a relational word that highlights a peoples’ connection to traditional territories, as well as their experiences of colonization. the term is “more inclusive since it identifies peoples in similar circumstances in all countries with a colonial history.”

*The term residential schools refers to an extensive school system set up by the Canadian government that had the nominal objective of educating Indigenous children but also the more damaging and equally explicit objectives of indoctrinating them into Euro-Canadian and Christian ways of living and assimilating them into mainstream white Canadian society.

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