You’re being seen and also enacting such an inherent part of yourself and part of your ancestors. And I totally relate to what you're saying about crying. I feel that crying is such a gift and in my culture, crying is beautiful. We're meant to cry. In Anishinaabe, crying is release, crying is medicine. I lost my brother in 2017 to drugs and alcohol. Life is entangled with grief. Holding that, holding that close to my heart, while making work, is such an inherent part of life, death is an inherent part of life. I think about him a lot when I make art and I don't talk about it a lot. This is the first time I've ever really talked about it in an interview context. But, he is a huge presence in my art. His name is Carl.
Thank you for sharing that. And I’m sorry. I lost my best friend to a fentanyl overdose in 2017. Each year, during my ceremony of his remembrance (his barsi), I think, no, not any more of our children. Again, I think about this work and the Western response marking it as workaholic. This is not work. Honouring him and honouring our ancestors is sacred work. It is the work of those that have lost, that we’ve lost, and will continue to lose if we don’t do this sacred work now. We’re living ancestors to them. You're preserving Carl’s energy in your art. I will honour him in your paintings. We look at death as the infinite and abrupt conclusion of the human form. But we know the spirit continues on. You’re thinking about your ancestors when you’re creating art. So they live on in your work. Do you see your work as a living being?
Thank you for sharing this, and I am sorry too. I think about Carl’s voice and what he’s taught me. I feel I am living for him in a way. I’m connecting with my culture for him. I’m enacting this, being present, and proud of who we are as a people, when I speak about my identity or culture. I’m standing shoulder to shoulder with these people who have brought me to who I am. I think about my grandfather behind me and telling me that you can do this. It’s okay to not have all the answers or be scared. But you’re going to be okay. This centres me. I hope other people also feel they can connect to that. I also think it’s important to create opportunities for others who are marginalized, Afro-Indigenous or Indigiqueer or Two-spirited who are further marginalised. We need to make more space for them. This is a responsibility that you carry as an artist.
I’m standing shoulder to shoulder with these people who have brought me to who I am. I think about my grandfather behind me and telling me that you can do this.