In 2016, I received a youth scholarship from the YVR (Vancouver International Airport) Art Foundation. I had proposed an antler sculpture which included beadwork and spoke towards the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. I attended the awards ceremony in May 2016. It was held in the Graham Clarke Atrium at YVR and had many artists in attendance. My mother, cousin, and my cousin’s partner joined me at the event. I was surrounded by well-known West Coast artists, including the late great Beau Dick.
After receiving the prestigious scholarship, I then had one year to complete the proposed artwork. Many scholarship recipients put the money towards their schooling. I, however, had already graduated and opted to study under a mentor. My mentor was Jennifer Bowen-Allen. I had met Jennifer when I was working at the Adaka Cultural Festival – she trained me to be the Visual Arts Coordinator. Through the scholarship program, Jennifer encouraged me to come up with a narrative for my artwork before creating it. This was a new process for me but it worked.
As a result of certain events taking place, my mind and heart were with those that endured abuse while in romantic relationships. I decided that this was the narrative I wanted to speak about in my piece. My dad had gifted me a sun-bleached antler rack that would be the main body of the work. My Uncle John assisted with cutting and securing the two antlers together.
I was living in Squamish, BC in the fall of 2016 when I began working on the beadwork for the piece. I chose black velvet so the colours would pop, however, the material is thinner than other fabrics and made beading the flowers difficult. The artwork is double-sided with wild roses being on the front and crocuses on the back. My partner Christopher assisted me with the final touches to the artwork, including attaching the fabric to the antlers.
I attended the unveiling ceremony in May 2017. It was a very emotional ceremony as many of the artists that year had deep and meaningful reflections of their artwork. I was joined proudly by my mother Janet Vander Meer, my father Wilfred Chasse, my brother Blake, cousin Quanah and his partner Candice, as well as my partner Christopher.
(Photo credit: Cynthia McCreery)
This piece tells the story of two women who were abused by the same man. The flowers represent these women and the parallel lives they lived. I dedicate this piece to all those abused, neglected, and ignored while in romantic relationships. I want my piece to inspire people to know that it is okay to love and be loved.
I am honoured to have received the award as well as having the opportunity of meeting so many talented young Indigenous artists. I’ve kept in touch with many of them through social media and am constantly witnessing their successes. I wish you all the best.