“This is Donnie, he reminds me of Frank,” a.k.a. Donnie, is a work of art created at the beginning of 2016. I was gifted this deer skull from my father, Wilfred. Wanting to use my newly acquired porcupine quills from my friend, Jackson, I decided to cover the skull with quills. As you can see, I did not remove any of the barbed tips of the quills; this resulted in many pricked bleeding fingers.
While creating the piece, I soon realized that Donnie needed to sit vertically so I crafted a small base out of styrofoam and black fabric. Once Donnie was threaded and secured to the base, I continued adding quills to the piece. I had received some grouse wings and tail feathers from White River First Nation member, Dwayne. Because I did not fan the tail feathers out as soon as I received them I had to boil the tail meat in hot water and stretch the feathers out into a fan formation. I then added a small quilled piece of hide to cover the base of the tail. Upper Tanana women often wear grouse tails in their hair or use it as a dance fan.
This work speaks towards the conflict in all of us.
Photo credit: Alistair Maitland Photography
If you haven’t caught on to why this piece is called “This is Donnie, he reminds me of Frank,” let me explain. During the process of creating this work I had watched the film Donnie Darko (2001), featuring Jake Gyllenhaal and Frank, the giant bunny rabbit. Inspired by this film, I saw the image of Frank in the skull, but I often forgot his name, therefore I nicknamed the work Donnie.
This piece was first featured at Art House Carcross in 2016 and is currently on tour in Saskatchewan in association with Sakewewak Artists Collective’s exhibition “The Next 150.”
By 2015, I soon began to bead on a daily basis and was able to develop more skills. I was also starting to market myself as an emerging artist. In the fall of 2015, I had the wonderful opportunity of interning at the Yukon Arts Centre’s Public Gallery. I had several notable projects, one included curating a group of Yukon artists for their work to be sent to Reykjavik, Iceland for the very first Circum-Arctic Art Show. I was also planning on sending a work of my own – a sunflower. Over the course of the month of September I worked daily on creating a 20 X 20cm beaded sunflower wall hanging. This was by far the largest sewn beadwork I had produced to date.
This artwork marked two things in my new beadwork career: 1) It was the largest sewn beadwork I had ventured to achieve with a set deadline. And 2) I created the floral pattern myself, non-traditional and without a border. The piece eventually toured Iceland and returned home. I had gifted the work to my Grandma Marilyn, where it now sits quietly on her living room wall.
As soon as I completed The Shoe, I began working on another discarded roadside item – a pylon. While living in Victoria, BC I collected the pylon from the street after a construction crew had left it behind. I had originally left the pylon thinking someone would pick it up. It wasn’t until a vehicle ran it over that I decided to take it home. The pylon traveled from Victoria to Whitehorse and back to Victoria with me. The second trip back to Victoria was when I decided to bead the piece. This was the moment when “Indigenizing Colonial Garbage” popped into my head. “Indigenizing Colonial Garbage” is an ongoing series of found objects, from the side of roadways, that I bead and create works of art.
The Pylon (2014) has been showcased at the Adaka Cultural Festival (Whitehorse, Yukon), Carcross Art House (Carcross, Yukon), The Art of Indigenous Resistance (United States Tour produced by Honour the Earth).
This is the excerpt for your very first post.
In 2013, I was walking in the ditch alongside a small road in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. At the time, I had two part-time jobs and barely making rent. As I was making my way towards to mall I came across an object that would change the course of my life – a shoe; a Banana Republic size 7 high heel, to be exact. Liking the look of the shoe, I picked it up and took it home with me. My roommate asked why I was carrying around a single shoe. My response: “It’s art.” That summer I transformed the damaged discarded shoe into a fully beaded work of art.
The Shoe (2013) has been showcased at the Emily Carr House (Victoria, BC), Carcross Art House (Carcross, Yukon), Talking Stick Festival (Roundhouse, Vancouver, BC).