Art exhibit shines light on contemporary beadwork
Beading has been a way for Catherine Blackburn connect with tradition while making new art
An art exhibit at Regina's Slate Gallery is challenging the normal perception of Indigenous bead work.
'Bead Speak' is an exhibit that features four female artists who are using the art of beading to convey a more personal message to their lives.
Catherine Blackburn is one of the artists in the exhibit and this weekend she will be speaking about her art practice in Regina for the 3rd Annual Art Walk that runs in collaboration with Saskatchewan Culture Days.
Although beading is a new addition to her art practice it was always in her blood.
"My grandmother is a beadwork artist and she has always beaded. I didn't realize how much it would inspire me later in life," said Blackburn.
"She would bead at her dining room table when we were over there visiting. I remember when I was a child every time we would go there and visit she would be working on some new piece whether that would be moccasins, mukluks or gloves."
Blackburn, a graduate of the University of Saskatchewan's Fine Arts program in 2007 originally focused her practice on large scale oil paintings only recently dove into the world of bead work a few years ago.
"When I was in Morley, Alta., I learned the techniques from my friend. Prior to that I hadn't touched beadwork," she said.
Blackburn said she saw an exhibit by Ruth Cuthand when she was in university and that style of conveying a message always stuck with her.
Ruth Cuthand is a well-known Indigenous artist whose exhibit 'Dis-ease' used beads to create images of virus' carried by Europeans in their early contact years with First Nations people.
Blackburn who grew up in a rural town in Saskatchewan, says although she didn't grow up on a reserve she still feels the impact of Canada's colonial history.
"I'm concerned now more with what i'm trying to say with my beadwork and using it as a medium to convey certain messages."
One of her pieces in the exhibit depicts the colour of a bruise beaded onto deer hide which she titled, "But There's No Scar?".
"The message behind that piece speaks to the continued affects of the residential school system and how it affected my life, my families life and Aboriginal people," she said.
Slate Gallery owners Kimberley Fyfe and Gina Fafard are excited to have Blackburn facilitate a lecture on Saturday and think that her work is something everyone can enjoy.
"The way she uses her medium of bead work she is actually making prairie landscapes out of bead work and not only did she think to do that she has executed it so beautifully…(so) from the perspective of an art gallery owner and collector this is something new, exciting and fresh and deserves to be looked at," said Fyfe.
Blackburn is a visual artist of Dene and European ancestry and will be in Regina on Oct.1 for the annual Art Walk that runs in collaboration with Saskatchewan Culture Days.
The other female artists in "Bead Speak" are Judy Anderson, Katherine Boyer, Ruth Cuthand and Sherry Farrell-Racett.