N.W.T. artist's Milky Way beading to be showcased in Smithsonian

Margaret Nazon of Tsiigehtchic, N.W.T., will have her beading that replicates the Milky Way featured in the Smithsonian Museum for an exhibit on light pollution.

Work will be featured beside a virtual image of Vincent van Gogh's The Starry Night

Margaret Nazon will have her beadwork on the Milky Way featured in the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington D.C. (Submitted by Margaret Nazon)

An artist from Tsiigehtchic, N.W.T., who uses beads to replicate space, stars and entire universes, will have her art showcased in the Smithsonian, right next to Vincent van Gogh's work.

Margaret Nazon's beading of the Milky Way is in Washington, D.C., where it will be presented in the Recovering Our Night Sky exhibit on light pollution at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

It will be beside a virtual image of van Gogh's The Starry Night. 

"I think because it's quite different, it's not like paint or water colours, the main work is done in bead work… I think that's why they picked that to go next to van Gogh's Starry Night," Nazon told CBC Weekender host Marc Winkler. 

The Recovering Our Night Sky exhibit is scheduled for November 2022, but Nazon said she's unsure if it will be delayed due to the most recent wave of COVID-19. 

Either way, Nazon said she doubts she'll travel to Washington to present her work. 

"I'm not fond of travelling to large places with millions of people all over the place, no thank you," she said with a laugh. 

Nazon said the exhibit is on an important subject as she's recognized light pollution as a barrier to admiring the stars. 

"It's true, whenever I'm down south in Edmonton or Calgary or Vancouver, I don't get to see as many stars," she said.

Nazon's work is inspired by images of the Hubble telescope. (submitted by Margaret Nazon)

Nazon said her piece on the Milky Way includes constellations like the Big Dipper, Little Dipper and the Cassiopeia, along with black holes and nebula galaxies.

Nazon said a worker at the Smithsonian reached out to her after seeing her work. She said the employee wanted to showcase beading that incorporates a northern night sky.

"The lady that I spoke to said to me, 'I want you to go outside, look up at the sky and what you see up there, I want that on there, on your picture,' so I did that," Nazon said.

She said one her favourite aspects of beading, is being able to feel the completed project.

"It's lovely to run your fingers over after the work is done, to run your fingers over the bead work. It's the sensation, it's really soothing." 

Inspiration from Hubble telescope

Nazon said she uses all sorts of beads for her art; including stone, glass, wood and even bones from caribou, fish and whale.

She said she will also shop at second-hand stores for any discarded necklaces and many people will give her these items as gifts.

"I feel honoured to be able to use whatever it is that they've given me to use in my artwork." 

Nazon said she first began using beads to replicate space when her partner showed her images taken from the Hubble Space Telescope. 

"We both looked at it and he said 'it looks like beadwork' and that was it," she said.

"I had to do a lot of research after." 

When asked if she had a favourite planet or star, Nazon said the Bubble Nebula sticks out because she "had a pup named Bubbles," but she added it's hard to have a favourite as scientists continue to discover new galaxies.

"Every year they're discovering new images and they're more beautiful than what I'm seeing so far," she said.

With files from Marc Winkler