This work explores the ways that we connect to each other, family, land, and the stories that are held in the inbetween. There are many open family “secrets”, knowledge which is too tender to fully articulate - something which is prone to happening in Indigenous families. Some hurts go too deep to articulate; many family secrets aren’t one person's trauma alone - they belong to the family. What do we have a responsibility to speak about, and what do we have a responsibility to not share widely?
The skins will be reused many times - they have already been used in the creation of three installations previous to their current life, and afterwards will be used again. As an Indigenous person there is no alternative; I must honor these materials, the lives of the fish, the energy of the fishers and tanners, as well as the tens of thousands of years of knowledge which has resulted in these beautiful objects. All of the fish were caught locally to me, and tanned by myself or others locally in a zero-waste way. Fish skins would normally be considered a waste product; however, this piece brings a waste product to the forefront as an art piece.
A lot of our Indigenous traditional fish skin tanning knowledge was lost. Fish skin objects were considered a lowly object not deserving of preserving by the colonizers, thus they were hardly ever preserved well in museums, so we have few surviving examples. This is a way for rural Indigenous communities to create their own sustainable industry based in their culture and values; a way for artists to make an income while also reviving traditional culture.
I've always felt you were my child
Tanned Atlantic Salmon skins, Tanned Ontario Pike, Tanned Albertan Pike, Aged copper pipe, Brass pipe, river stones
Curated by Roxanne Fernandez, as part of a group exhibition "The currents that carry us" shown at the Confederation Centre for the arts, Charlottetown PEI.