I created this piece with the intention of embodying the personal life experiences and choices of an aboriginal woman; an aboriginal mother. The mother and child depicted in the artwork was taken from a photograph of a 16-year-old aboriginal mother whom was holding her child over her head. The image of the mother and child was used to suggest the innate power and love that a mother has towards her child. So-much-so that the aboriginal mother is able to raise her child up; despite her age, despite her race, despite the fact that the father had left, despite social and racial inequality, despite intergenerational effects of residential school, despite the fact that nearly half of children in foster care in Canada are aboriginal, despite the underfunding of aboriginal education and underfunding of the aboriginal social welfare system, despite all stereotypes; a mother’s love is powerful enough to overcome all of these barriers for her child. The bond between a mother and child is sacred, universal, and is shared existentially across the cultures. The mother holding the child over herself also portrays that the child’s dreams, needs, wants, are raised up above the mothers own dreams, needs and wants.
The interwoven dreamcatchers above the mother and child was taught to me by an elder. The two dreamcatchers intertwined figuratively portrays the intertwining of two people. Like the two dreamcatchers, the two people’s lives are intertwined, so much so, that they cannot simply become undone and nothing can separate the two spirits. Such is the bond between the mother and child, as the hopes and dreams eventually become one between the mother and child.
The image of the mother, child, and dreamcatchers are printed on birch bark. It was printed on birch bark to demonstrate the resilient link between the present and past aboriginal culture; as aboriginal women historically, used birch bark to create baskets, trays, dishes, storage boxes etc. But I also chose to print it on birch bark because, when ignited, birch bark burns quickly; it is extremely flammable. Birch bark is constantly used as a tool to start fires and that’s what I believe all aboriginal woman are capable of. Despite all of the nuances of today’s society, aboriginal women are capable of starting fires, to spark change.