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Indigenous Arts & Stories - With Friends

With Friends

2011 - Art Winner

Joseph Tisiga

Whitehorse, YT
Kaska Dene
Age 26

Author's Statement

The painting that I have submitted titled “With Friends” re-imagines the moment of my mothers removal from her birth family by authorities as a child of “60’s Scoop”. My mother shared her memory of this moment with me while I was a teenager, long before making art was of any interest. Over the years I thought about her story and about all the other children who had been needlessly taken from their own families only to be haphazardly placed into another family or imprisoned within the mission schools. The reality of it seemed absurd and impossible, that a man of no familiarity could go to another’s house, abduct the children and escort them into an unknown and horrifying future like some perverse and unsolicited Pied Piper. Certainly it doesn’t seem too far removed from the morbid fairy tales and cartoons which I would read as a child.

Consequently, while painting this piece it was important for me to bare in mind a sense of non-reality (as opposed to fiction) that would reflect the moment that I had no way of experiencing aside my imagination. A child playing or maybe hiding. An imaginary friend or possibly a friendly ghost keeps her company in the lonely cabin while a man, possibly the Pied Piper or simply just a man, stands at the the cabin door in the moment right before the unknowing child is abducted into civilization. Disjointed and abstracted perspectives suggest the impossibility of my re-imagined moment, yet a sinister mood creeps across the surface, unifying the plains.