Who are you and how did you start making art? Why do you make art?
The younger people in the community were asking me questions about traditional art forms, including birch bark biting. I literally went out to my neighbours wood pile to gather some bark and teach myself as I had seen it a few times before. But I have been an artist all my life. I used to collect rocks on the shores of the Hudson Bay and paint them!
What do you do to get into your creative zone?
I visualize for the most part and channel energy and thoughts that I translate onto images in the bark. I try to work a lot in silence and quiet so that I can focus, and if that's not working, I turn to nature and head out to a quiet place.
What is your inspiration? Or how has your personal experience influenced your creativity?
I was inspired by the work of Angelique Merasty of Flin Flon, Manitoba in the early 90's. From there I taught myself the art of birch bark biting because I thought it was beautiful and I was concerned that there were few people doing this traditional art form. I'm inspired by the preservation of this important art form so I continue to create and share my work so that this art form will never be lost.
What is your most important artists’ tool, the one thing you couldn’t imagine creating without?
Well, my teeth of course! Although I do use all of the four elements in my work which are water, fire, earth, and wind.
How has your practice changed over the past 2 years?
My practice has not changed, but teaching has changed in that I have devoloped a way of teaching via zoom that has allowed me to teach people in any location.
What is your dream creative project or dream team collaboration?
I love fashion and clothing design and have been creating clothing designs since the 80's. I finally launched an art show at Wanuskewin Heritage Park in summer 2022 which features many fashion pieces that include laser etchings of my birch bark bitings. I would love to collaborate with a high fashion brand to create a line of clothing that features my birch bark biting designs and see them moving across a runway in Paris, or in VOGUE magazine!
Who are your biggest influences (art, music, film, socials, activism etc)?
My biggest influences would be Indigenous Art, and the importance of preserving our culture. Using art to communicate and educate people on issues that are important to Indigenous people such as protection of water, missing and murdered Indigenous women, residential school impact, and more.
What is the role of an artist in society?
The role of an artist is to pass on our traditional art forms to the younger generation, to provide beautiful things for people to enjoy, and develop thought provoking work.
Do you have any tips or practices to share with people who are making the lifestyle shift towards zero-waste and sustainable practices?
There are lots of traditional sustainable ways of doing things, for example if you are hunting you can use every part of the animal. You can learn about plants that are edible and how to pick and use them and try not to waste food too. Before something goes bad freeze it, or share it!
What is the highlight of collaborating with Wrappr for you?
The beautiful colours that Wrappr was able to incorporate into my designs.
What is your favourite way to use a Wrappr?
I will probably braid it into my daughters and granddaughters hair