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Indigenous Arts & Stories - Identity


2016 - Art Winner

Taylor McPherson

Calgary, AB
Miawpukek, First Nation
Age 16

Author's Statement

I chose to create a piece that displays aboriginal “identity.” The reason I put identity in quotations is because it is not the true identity of all aboriginal people, but what some have become and how many people in society view them. My piece is meant to share the dark legacies that the residential schools have left behind. My work includes many words that indigenous peoples have been stereotyped/labeled, including some key elements that society as a whole has constructed. The portrait of the girl is me; I am not familiar with my aboriginal culture as much as l would like, having been raised in the white western culture I do feel the disconnect. However, underneath my white skin there is First Nations blood from the tribe Miawpukek that runs through me and holds my history, my story. In society I am considered, treated and viewed as a white Caucasian with a small percentage of aboriginal and because of that I have been called “pretend Indian,” however I am a confident, competent and intelligent female full status Aboriginal.
I wanted to display the traditional Aboriginal demeanour including the dark historical side left behind from residential schools, “an unfortunate dark mark” upon Canadian history. I made sure to create a connection for viewers through contrasting beauty with reality. I aimed to incorporate all of the sad truths about the disrupted culture and how the residential schools created a cultural genocide, distorted their identity and traditional ways of knowledge. Furthermore, statistics sadly verify this grim outcome for many of our aboriginal peoples, even today.

Note: The painting is approximately 3 x 4 ft; however the frame and lacing is approximately an extra 2.5 x 1.5 ft. If needed I will make the frame smaller. I also have included a picture of a print that was made to be framed which is 2 x 3 ft, that can be used as an alternative to the original piece.