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This series requires some careful explanation. It’s a comment on the hybridized nature of colonial children who are born into a homeland imbued with an indigenous spirit. In my case, the First Nations peoples of Canada – and more specifically, Vancouver (Coast Salish and Tsleil-Waututh).

Almost all of these works are self-portraits that express a deliberately naïve kind of appropriation – like a child who doesn’t know what it doesn’t know. I went there knowingly, but with loving, curious intent, as if to say 'this is what I look like on the inside, is that ok?'. These are portraits of an essence of self. An attempt at claiming a self-identity that cannot deny the seeping in, respect for, and love of the First Nations ethos despite not having blood ties or first-hand experience.

I spent my childhood playing in the coastal rainforests and Sounds of the Pacific Northwest known to me as “British Columbia”. This land lives in my cells like a shared ancestor – it is visceral and very real. There are interesting tensions to discuss here – on one hand, feeling shame and guilt at my pink-skinned colonial heritage, on another, adopting the same respectful attitude as indigenous cultures and embracing my European/Scandinavian ancestry with love and acceptance. There is a spirit that lives in me that isn’t mine and is mine at the same time. I am a rhizome, learning anew, reflecting, undoing, wanting to talk about it and understand my naïvety, and also be better understood. These works span geographical and generational gaps, from early 18th century settler’s tartan and  prairie farm dress, to horse spirit and Swedish folklore, to 1970’s action figures, LP’s, sport socks, and banana-seat bicycle with rainbow tassels.

Recommended reading: It Stops Here: Standing up for our Lands, Our Waters, and our People by Reuben George
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