I had the great honour of receiving my second Emerging Artist Scholarship from the YVR Art Foundation in 2019. I completed this piece in 2020. Due to COVID-19 this work will not be displayed in the Vancouver International Airport, please visit the YVR Art Foundations website to see the 2019 recipient work: http://www.yvrafgallery.com
Stsǫǫ Wueek means “Grandma’s Shirt” in Upper Tanana, Scottie Creek Dialect. I made this piece for my Grandma Gàan dànihtl’įǫ Stsǎy Ch’idzǜü’ Marilyn John who is an Upper Tanana Elder living in Beaver Creek, Yukon. My Grandma was my mentor and guided me while I created this work. We were inspired by an image of her older sister Bessie John wearing dance regalia with her sister Jenny and cousin Mary Tyone.
Grandma Marilyn wanted me to create a garment that would echo the photograph of her sisters. I took a few liberties and created a shawl version of the regalia. I also added beadwork with my Grandma’s favorite colours, purple and pink, to the front of the piece. We layered white stroud over red which is visible through the white fringes.
The back of the piece is a beaded depiction of Scottie Creek from Marilyn Lake, where my Grandma was born down to Tayh Ch’įį, where she lived as a child with her family. Scottie Creek crosses the fictious international border between Yukon and Alaska. Rather than focusing on the colonial definitions of place, I’ve only represented the waterway as well as old sites and homesteads along the creek. I beaded cabins in 24k gold and the Upper Tanana dome skin tent in 24k gold and galvanized gold beads. My Grandma recalls living in the dome skin tent prior to her family living in a wall tent and later a cabin.
Unfortunately, my Grandma is unable to physically return to her birthplace but I hope this wearable art will bring her comfort, joy, and memory of living with her parents and grandparents in the bush.
Photo credits: Christopher Walton and Teresa Vander Meer-Chasse