Because June is Pride and National Indigenous History Month, we commissioned this radiant new logo
Two-spirit artist Preston Buffalo on the ideas that inspired the design
Evolution. It's one of the themes Preston Buffalo set out to capture in the CBC Arts logo for June, National Indigenous History Month in Canada. But on a personal and professional level, this year has marked a major shift for the Cree two-spirit artist, as he put aside a 20-year career as a hairdresser to follow a different calling: visual art. We reached out to Buffalo over email, and here, he reflects on why he chose this new direction, while sharing some of the ideas that are celebrated in his profile pic for the month.
Name: Preston Harrison Roger Buffalo
Homebase: Vancouver, the un-ceded homelands of the Coast Salish nations
Let's talk about the design! What inspired your take on the CBC Arts logo?
I want to show that First Nations art has to evolve, and that there needs to be space for different points of view and voices not yet heard — two-spirited voices that have been lost due to colonialism and the values it forced on us. As a two-spirited artist I wanted to integrate the theme of Pride in the piece as well.
What do the symbols inside the gem represent?
Modernizing Indigenous symbols. Aboriginal rights are not frozen and must evolve as we as a society evolve. I wanted to bring some new forms into the dialogue. I chose the bee and the dog because they were living beings that I hadn't seen represented in this style of art before.
What's inspiring your art these days?
I'm inspired to explore traditional art techniques of my people, but it gets complicated because my background is Cree, but through dislocation I was raised off reserve on Vancouver Island with West Coast teachings. That leaves a lot to explore and be inspired by.
What's the art project you're most proud of?
My showing of self portraits last year at Never Apart in Montreal. I never went to art school. I'm completely self-taught and I didn't make these pieces to be seen. It was the first public showing of my work and it ended up being a turning point in my life. It told me that I was going down the right path and I wasn't making garbage out of garbage, and it was such an honour to be showing alongside accomplished two-spirited artists like Dayna Danger, Jeffrey McNeil-Seymour and Kent Monkman. Meanwhile back in Vancouver I had lost my job and didn't know what the future held. Nothing could break the high I felt from that show.
Who's the last artist you discovered online?
Vanessa Merie Gidden (@vanessamerieart) on Instagram. She's a local Vancouver artist who paints florals that I find very calming to look at.
What's your favourite place to see art?
I watch a lot of YouTube and take virtual tours when museums offer them.
IRL? I like seeing other outsider artists in their spaces to see what they're creating. I live not too far from Main and Hastings in Vancouver and there's a lot unrecognized talent there that gets overlooked because of the stigma attached to that neighbourhood.
What's one work of art you dream of owning?
Anything Francis Bacon.
Any new projects on the go? Where can we see more from you?
I start at Emily Carr in the fall but in the meantime I'll be working on my Heart series which you'll be able to view on my website at www.prestonbuffalo.com.
Every month, we feature a new take on the CBC Arts logo, created by a Canadian artist. Check out more Q&As with our past contributors.