Morgan Asoyuf places her ornate crowns and jewelry on Indigenous activists to honour and protect them
'Why are we not placing our most highly prized items on these people?'
Ts'msyen artist Morgan Asoyuf has always been interested in headpieces. "I love tiaras and crowns and aigrettes," says the multidisciplinary artist. "And the other thing I've always been in love with is frontlets, which is like the northwest coast version of the crown."
Asoyuf primarily works in goldsmithing, jewelry, gem-setting, and engraving. And for the series Royal Portrait, she used the "royal" association of jewelled headpieces to create photographic portraits that celebrate and promote the work of Indigenous activists.
The portraits were photographed by Patrick Shannon in 2019. For Asoyuf, it was a way of recognizing two-spirit people and Indigenous women's work toward movements such as land defence and MMIWG2S+, with activists wearing Asoyuf's headpieces and other artwork in the portraits.
"Why are we not placing our most highly prized items on these people?" asks Asoyuf. "They need the spiritual protection and the physical protection that these items help bring them."
For Asoyuf, who is currently based in North Vancouver, it's also important for her to have her work used by activists on the frontlines. "I like to get artworks and jewelry out to the community members, especially Indigenous femmes and two-spirit people," says Asoyuf. "This is their voice, and we're here to support those voices."
In addition to her artwork, Asoyuf is a writer and illustrator and is releasing her book Learning My Rights with Mousewoman next month.
See more of Asoyuf's work on her website.