Meet the designer making wearable art that comes out of Indigenous teachings and culture

Multi-talented Tamara Lee-Anne Cardinal's jingle dresses draw on history through fashion, and she took CBC Arts into her studio to explain her process.

Tamara Lee-Anne Cardinal's jingle dresses draw on history through fashion

Indigenous teachings are the driving force behind this designer's jingle dresses and tea bag couture

7 years ago
Duration 3:25
Artist Tamara Lee-Anne Cardinal explains how time with Elders and learning her own traditional name contributed to her new Jingle Dress design.

The jingle dress, a garment typically made with rows of cones that bounce and create percussive rhythm when their wearer performs, has its own back story in which the wearer performs a dance to heal sick or hurt members of her community. This is the history artist Tamara Lee-Anne Cardinal draws upon when she creates her own jingle dresses, just one part of her multidisciplinary practice that includes sculpture and performance along with her design of tea bag clothing.

Cardinal's cultural journey, art practice and advocacy for Indigenous rights in Alberta led her to Elders Darryl and Linda Brass. They gifted the artist with her traditional name, Mahihkan Acahkos Iskwew (or Wolf Star Woman), and now Cardinal is making a new jingle dress to celebrate its meaning. In this video, Cardinal tells you what the jingle dress means to her and gives you access to her studio as she begins work on her newest creation.

See Tamara Lee-Anne Cardinal's work at Stride Gallery in Calgary until May 19.

Watch Exhibitionists online. New episodes Friday nights at 12:30am (1am NT) and Sundays at 3:30pm (4pm NT) on CBC Television. 


Caroline Cox is a filmmaker based out of a remote homestead in the Canadian sub-arctic. Her wilderness lifestyle has inspired her to create the documentary TV series, Wild Kitchen. Cox’s love of the arts comes from years of writing and performing music across Canada.