Category Archives: Artworks

Kahnawake Brewery Installation Mural

In November 2022, I was invited to produce a mural for the Women’s Restroom at the Kahnawake Brewing Company. The intention was to create a space that not only complemented the aesthetic and identity of the brewery, but honoured the feeling femininity. Femininity, as a social construct, can involve many layers of reflection. From gender constructs, to feminism, to images we personally feel drawn to, the idea of capturing femininity. seemed more complex than simply beautifying a bathroom space.

I wanted to honour the diversity of what it means to be a woman and how we came to identify as such. This mural thus featured a series of portraits with minds bursting with herbs, medicines and butterflies. I drew from my own curiosity of natural medicines and magic of our long traditions of connecting with the land. Each woman and each life entity, being connected to the Earth, features a story of interconnection. The butterflies pollinate the medicines, who then care for the people. As a symbol, this speaks to the importance of women honouring and empowering each other–that we can nourish each other so our whole community can flourish with inspiration, healing and magic entirely of our own.

Using recycled photoframes I hand painted in bronze, each portrait was then framed so that viewers of this mural can find a piece of themselves to honor and love.

How did I come to connect with the Brewery?

In October 2021, I designed a brew label for them! If you happen to visit, check out the New England IPA entitled “Centauress”!

Image curtesy of the Kahnawake Brewing Company.

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Every Child Matters

This year, I designed the Kahnawake Education Center’s Orange shirts for the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation on September 30th 2022. Although the process started like many other drawings, there was something that shifted along the way. As I thought about symbols and stories staring down at my blank surface, many things passed through my mind. 

I thought about what it would feel like to be taken from home. 

I thought about what it would feel like if I was unable to see the children in my life as a parent ever again. 

I thought about what it would feel like to come home and feeling like a stranger in my own body. 

I thought about my grandfather, who if he hadn’t come home from Residential School that I would not exist and nor would my family. 

And for a moment, in the midst of feeling everything that comes with our shared trauma, I felt a moment of gratitude. 

I thought about all our children wearing this image and how beautiful they are. All of them who are here because of the love and strength in our community. I knew that it was important to weave intention and ceremony into the image that was to unfold. 

In this image, we have turtle island as the foundation for all of our unwavering roots to remind us that home is connected to the soil under our feet. 

We have our tota moon to remind us that no matter how alone we can feel, both as children and each of us as children at heart, she is always there to guide us through change. 

We have Sky Woman, Mother Earth or truly the idea of any parent figure in our lives, holding what seeds and intentions we plan to birth, grow and sow. 

Wrapping us together are flowers and other details, reminding us that no matter the environment, as a community we can find space to thrive and blossom. 

At the bottom, we have a wumpum to remind our neighbours to their commitment to becoming or continuing as allies. 

And the center, we have the handprint for both the children who did not come home and for those that did to remind them that we love them each so dearly. 

Maybe it’s just a shirt, but for me it’s medicine and we may not always realize it. 

Every child matters reminds us of the importance to make safe spaces for children to grow, to change as they change, to blossom and to feel loved. That’s our collective role as a community and when we wear orange, we validate that commitment to our children so that they never feel unrooted.

Indigenous People’s Day Intergenerational Mural

As part of the Indigenous People’s Day Block Party on July 21st 2022, organized by the Kanien’keháka Onkwawén:na Raotitióhkwa Language and Cultural Center, I facilitated a drop in mural for participants of all ages. The theme explored focused on celebrating who we are as Indigenous people. From children, teens to adults and families, dozens of community members contributed a small portion to this four part mural.

Once completed for the day, all four canvases were connected through black lines that I intended to use in weaving the narratives and energy of all the participants. This artwork was later displayed during the Iontkathóhtha’ Art Show in October 2022.

Kateri Memorial Hospital Mural

In July 2021, the Kateri Memorial Hospital Center invited me to paint a mural in their Healing Garden Space. Intended for ceremony, healing and growth in our traditional medicine program here in the community, this space would act as a gathering point for staff and clients alike.

Following the natural shapes of the stone surfaces, I painted the turtle’s back as the foundation of all life and around its shell, them moccasins of the people. The people who are now our ancestors, the people of today and the people of the faces yet to come. Along its platelets, I honoured the thirteen moons and all their phases. These images invited in our Grandmother Moon teachings, reminding us that we are all part of the natural transition, growth and change in life.

The intention of this mural is the embody the beauty of change as we heal and grow as people.

Youth Mural

In collaboration with POP Montreal and L.O.V.E. (Leave Out Violence Everywhere), I facilitated a group of youth to design, paint and complete a bin mural for Montreal’s 2021 POP festival.

The story they wish to share was the importance of honouring mental health during the pandemic.

Community Response Art to Residential Schools

On June 7th and 9th, the students and staff of Kateri School participated in a school wide mural to honor the children found in Kamloops, the children yet to be found and themselves. Both on-site students and remote learners were invited to either place a hand print on the canvas or submit a handprint to be sealed onto the painting. Kanienkeha’ka First Nations Art Therapist and 3rd Generation Residential School Survivor, Megan Kanerahtenhá:wi Whyte (MA, ATPQ, RCAT),  invited each class from nursery to grade 6 to either sit or stand in circles in the outdoor classroom by the school garden space. Together, we talked about Residential Schools within Canada and within our own community in Kahnawake. In this conversation, each child was reminded that they mattered and they were loved. Each staff member, who once were children as well, were reminded that they mattered and they were loved. Whether child or adult, every participant was either a great grandchild, grandchild and child of a Residential School or Indian Day School survivor. Some staff were Indian Day School survivors. This was an important arts-based response to the historical trauma of Residential Schools across Turtle Island, from Kamloops to the traditional lands of the Kanienkeha’ka in Quebec. It created a sense of community across the generations, which is integral to creating cultural safe spaces for Indigenous people. The paintings will be permanently displayed at Kateri School in Kahnawake, which was historically a Day School.  

Art has the power to heal. 

To dialogue. 

To build bridges. 

To connect. 

#everychildmatters

Billboard for the Kateri Memorial Hospital Center

The purpose of this mural is to honor the tireless work of the staff at the Kateri Memorial Hospital Center. From frontline workers to those who work in the background to ensure the hospital as a whole runs with both structure and humility, their ongoing effort to support its people truly reflects the concept of community. During the pandemic, the staff have been diligent to delivery safe services with the continued amount of care they have always brought to Kahnawake. 

In this image, I have painted two medical staff who are smiling and extending a warm welcome to our community. Both are wearing beaded masks made by our own people and one holds a burning sage bowl. From the smoke of the sage comes good energy, including the iconic rainbow colours we have come to associate with resilience during this pandemic seamlessly woven into the smoke. Behind them is a sunset with both the sun and the moon-cycle, to represent both the cultural teachings of transition and change as well as to demonstrate the around the clock dedication of our staff. Along the horizon line are all the staff standing together. This is to represent the community of people involved within the health system, who together hold us during this pandemic and always. From their feet run roots to the bottom of the mural because their devotion is rooted in the love from our ancestors, regardless of where we come from.

Written at the bottom is the word Entewatatse’nia:ron which translates to “we will preserve”. The entire concept embraces the work of the staff who ensure that we will overcome this pandemic as a community. 

I have so much gratitude for being invited to be part this project.

https://fb.watch/1AoP9G1x-b/

Video Archive: Art and Mindfulness for Children and Teens

This 20-minute video (produced by the First Nations Education Council) leads you through an exercise for children in grades 4/5/6 that teaches both perspective drawing as well as regulation during frustration. It touches upon cultural spring time themes as well as visualization.

Mindfulness for Children and parents

Within scheduling, it can be important to make time for holistic self-care. During the morning, I dedicate time to exploring daily self-care by using medicine wheel teachings. Each sector influences the other.

For instance, if we have negative thoughts, it may affect our emotions. We may feel anxiety, shame, doubt etc. These may the influence our bodies, feeling nausea, exhaustion and headaches. All of these impact our spiritual health, disconnecting us from each other, ourselves and the land.

Graphic made by the Anishinaabe Bimaadiziwin Cultural Healing and Learning Program

Physical: We take daily walks outside and follow online yoga videos (my youngest loves cosmicyoga on youtube). Dress for the weather (we are in a transitionary spring climate that shifts from -13 degrees to +16). Dress for the weather. There are so many teachings the land can offer (snow, rain, sun, wind). We take care of our bodies with nutrition and gardening. Yoga practices breathing and creating mindfulness is a good step to learning self-regulation.

for parents: take time for yourself to also walk with them or to follow your own exercise program. Model physical activity, which may inspire your children to do the same.

Mental: We make time to talk about our thoughts in the world, which naturally unfold when we make art and play together. The children have the opportunity to share their fears or musing about the future. We have made art and took time to process them. Additionally, by doing STEAM activities, they are exercising their executive functions like problem-solving, adapting and reflecting.

for parents: take time to talk to your support network and process your thoughts. Facetime, phone calls, text or online forums to practice safe social distancing while maintaining connection with others. Do activities for yourself too, whether that be work, reading or keeping a daily log. Journals do not have to be just for teens, we can use them too! Jstor has also made their database accessible to the public so nows the time to explore that one thing you have always been interested in:

Open-Access JSTOR Materials Accessible to the Public

Emotional: We have a dedicated time to explore emotional expression. Using art and a daily art journal (which we have always had), we make time to explore feelings. Modeling that it is safe to look at all our feelings, even if we are uncomfortable, is helpful for children to learn how to express. Be there for them and remember to be the secure base for them. If you feel activated, name it for yourself and allow yourself to be there. Feelings are safe.

For parents: Again, stay in contact with your social networks. It is ok to show vulnerability to children because it shows them that they can be vulnerable too. But be mindful of how we choose to regulate. Make art, breathing exercises, exercise.

Here are some free mindfulness apps: insight timer; smiling mind; stop, breathe & think; UCLA mindful; 10% happier

Spiritual: Each morning, we begin with a smudge and the Ohenton Kariwatehkwen (thanksgiving address). We practice spiritual connection when we connect with each other and the land.

For parents: spirituality does not have to mean religion. It can mean connection.

Although these are separated into categories, they often interconnect–especially when making art or spending time in nature.

 

APTN Skindigenous Mini-Documentary Series

As part of APTN’s season 2 series called Skindigenous, I was invited to participate in a mini documentary about art therapy in First Nations communities.

In our conversation, we explored the role of multigenerational trauma and the impact of cultural restoration in community health. There was focus on identity exploration and the power art-making lends to its creator to deconstruct and reconstruction what it means to be Indigenous.