4 Apr, '22

Showcasing artist Catherine Blackburn.

Catherine Blackburn melds traditional form with contemporary design in New Age Warriors, using the framework of beading to explore cultural identity, memory, and history. As a jeweler and visual artist, Catherine has worked in painting, quilling, and beading to address Canada’s colonial past through her personal experiences. An exploration of new media and directions in her practice, Catherine has fashioned warrior garments and language medallions from plastic Perler beads in New Age Warriors to show the connection between materiality and Indigenous women’s ability to adapt to their changing environments. Each outfit is an amalgamation of elements in female clothing from different North American nations, honouring the diversity and innovation of traditional Indigenous design. New Age Warriors is a celebration of the strength, resilience, and ingenuity of Catherine’s ancestors and the women in her life today. The primary inspiration of Catherine’s artwork is her grandmother. Growing up, Catherine’s knowledge and memory of culture was informed as she observed her grandmother create traditional moose hide wear with detailed beadwork.

Catherine Blackburn was born in Île-à-la-Crosse SK. She is of Dene and European ancestry and is a member of the English River First Nation. Her work in beading, painting, and jewelry address Canada’s colonial past, prompted by personal narratives. Through the subject of family, she is inspired to express her own feelings and experiences that speak to the complexities of memory, history, and identity. Her art merges contemporary concepts with elements of traditional Dene culture that create dialogue between traditional art forms and new interpretations of them. She has been included in notable exhibitions such as Beadspeak(2016) at Slate Fine Art Gallery, Regina; Worlds on a String: Beads, Journeys, Inspirations(2016) at the Textile Museum of Canada, Toronto; the renowned 2017Bonavista Biennale, as one of only 26 Canadian artists; and ‘My Sister,’ the Contemporary Indigenous Art Biennial 2018/La Biennale d’Art Contemporain Autochtone (BACA) in Montreal, Quebec. She has received numerous grants and awards for her work, including a Governor General History Award, the highly recognized Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation grant, and most recently the Saskatchewan RBC Emerging Artist Award.

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