When I set out to create a piece for this contest I wanted to explore a theme that was relevant and personal. I believed that my piece would have the most meaning if I was dealing with a topic that I was able to relate to. I wanted to work with what I knew. I chose a theme and not a moment in aboriginal history because I felt that the theme of alcohol abuse and the struggle with addiction for first nations people was a stronger base for inspiration. I wanted to explore abuse in my piece, specifically alcohol abuse, because I believe that it is a hugely detrimental factor in the lives of many aboriginal people. I think it is important to be able to have a dialogue on such a sensitive issue, and I wanted my piece to help accomplish that. I chose to juxtapose two very different aspects of first nations culture. I was heavily influenced in my piece by Jane Ash Poitras, an artist whose work I really admire. I chose to emulate her style because I felt that it was the most effective medium to connect to my chosen theme. The upper third of the work draws heavily on the metaphor of finding the way. In the left side, the stars act as guidance and light, and in the right side, the sky is murky and the only light in the sky is the word lost, written in the style of learning english letters. The dream catchers in my piece, both the whole and the shattered one, represent another important aspect of first nations culture. On the left, the dream catcher is whole and strong, it represents unity and safety, while on the right the dream catcher has been shattered and broken, it lies in pieces. My piece is meant to show the passing of time, the bottle in the middle is a distorting factor, it has made the path become lost, just as alcohol and substance abuse has for many first nations communities. The overall message that I am trying to communicate through my piece is my feelings towards alcohol abuse and the effect that it has had on my people.
Parry Sound, ON
Wasauksing First Nation
Bruce Mines, ON
East Algoma Metis and Non-Status Indian Association
Henvy Inlet First Nations