IN KEEPING WITH MYSELF
Catherine Blackburn was born in Patuanak, Saskatchewan, of Dene and European ancestry and is a member of the English River First Nation. She is a multidisciplinary artist and jeweller. Her common themes, which are often prompted by personal narratives, address Canada’s colonial past. Through beadwork and the use of other historical adornment techniques, she creates space to explore Indigenous sovereignty, decolonization and representation. Her work in this exhibition was created in collaboration with Tenille Campbell.
Blackburn has often noted that beadwork can be akin to medicine, a meditation of the mind. It is a process that can be both therapeutic and overwhelming, yet when completed, ultimately gratifying. In But There’s No Scar? II, she sits in a meditative pose with her back to the camera, two long braids cascading over an incredible galaxy of beadwork. In the image, both process and outcome are defined. Blackburn sits strong, seemingly at peace, and demonstrates part of the process that allowed this confidence of identity. Beadwork connects the artist to her sense of self and community. It is also a symbol of defiance of colonial practices imposed on Indigenous peoples.