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New Age Warriors

Catherine Blackburn
Presented by: Sâkêwêwak Artists’ Collective Inc
June 15 – August 3, 2019

Catherine Blackburn’s practice is centered on contemporary interpretations of traditional Aboriginal forms. In New Age Warriors, she uses the framework of beading to explore cultural identity, memory, and history. Blackburn will use Perler beads to create seven life-size warrior garments and language medallions. Each outfit is an amalgamation of elements based on traditional female clothing from different nations in Canada, speaking to the diversity of Canada’s Aboriginal women. Although embedded floral and geometric designs will be drawn from traditional imagery, the structure of the garments is futuristic to assert that Aboriginal women’s resiliency is their “new age armour.” The plastic Perler beads are important in this regard. Due to North America’s growing consumerism there is an overabundance of plastic waste. By reinventing plastic through garment making, Blackburn comments on the relationship between Aboriginal women and the land in terms of ingenuity and adaptation to environment.


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 near Patuanak, SK. 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 2017 Bonavista 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. She is affiliated with the Alcheringa Gallery in Victoria BC; the Mann Art Gallery in Prince Albert SK., Slate Gallery in Regina, SK.; the B.Yellowtail collective in Los Angeles, California; the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto ON; and the Remai Modern in Saskatoon SK