City’s irst Indige­nous artist in res­i­dence ‘grate­ful’ for her ten­ure

StarMetro Edmonton - - Front Page - Kevin Maimann

Ed­mon­ton’s first Indige­nous artist in res­i­dence al­most turned down the po­si­tion.

Dawn Marie Marc­hand said she was “a lit­tle bit sur­prised” when it was of­fered to her in the sum­mer of 2016, and felt her fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion might stop her from fully par­tic­i­pat­ing.

“I asked them to give me a cou­ple weeks to think about it. Be­cause I knew I had poverty bar­ri­ers that other artists might not have had,” Marc­hand said Wed­nes­day.

The Cree/Metis vis­ual artist and au­thor ul­ti­mately chose to take the job, on the con­di­tion that the city pro­vide her with three things she didn’t have: a bus pass, a cell­phone and a com­puter.

On Wed­nes­day, the city un- veiled an ex­hi­bi­tion of the work she’s done over the last year at city hall as her ten­ure comes to a close.

“When your trans­porta­tion is not se­cure, it lim­its what you can at­tend to, what you can do, where you can go. So that was re­ally a ma­jor thing to me,” Marc­hand said. Not hav­ing a cell­phone would cause her to miss op­por­tu­ni­ties and dead­lines, she added.

And Marc­hand is far from be­ing the only lo­cal artist held down by poverty.

When she cu­rated the art for the first-ever Na­tional Gath­er­ing of Elders in Septem­ber, she ran into many tal­ented Indige­nous artists fac­ing sim­i­lar strug­gles.

“They didn’t have ac­cess to a com­puter, they didn’t have ac­cess to the in­ter­net, or some­times their cell­phones weren’t work­ing. In those cases I had to work with them to build their ca­pac­ity to give them what they needed,” she said.

“It wasn’t that the art­work wasn’t good enough, it was just the ac­cess bar­rier.”

Marc­hand has used her time as artist in res­i­dence to draw at­ten­tion to is­sues fac­ing Indige­nous com­mu­ni­ties, and to en­cour­age all Ed­mon­to­ni­ans to un­der­stand the peo­ple, na­tions and in­for­ma­tion of Indige­nous peo­ples in their own city.

Known for be­ing out­spo­ken on Twit­ter, Marc­hand said one of her favourite pieces from the past year is pwawa­tewin, or Heavy Bur­den – a five-by-13-foot col­lage made up of 9,178 tweets.

“I think it re­ally speaks to the fact that, as an Indige­nous artist, you spend just about as much time or more time try­ing to de­fend what you’re try­ing to do, than ac­tu­ally do­ing it,” she said.

Marc­hand said she’s en­joyed be­ing artist in res­i­dence, but added with a laugh that she’s “kind of glad that it’s over.”

“It’s been a whirl­wind. I’m grate­ful for ev­ery minute.”

It wasn’t that the art­work wasn’t good enough, it was just the ac­cess bar­rier. dawn marie marc­hand


The City of Ed­mon­ton is cel­e­brat­ing its irst Indige­nous artist in res­i­dence, Dawn Marie Marc­hand, with an ex­hibit fea­tur­ing her work over the last year.

KEvIn Tuong/Ed­mon­Ton FREE­lAncE

dawn Marie Marc­hand, Ed­mon­ton’s first Indige­nous Artist in Res­i­dence, stands with her art­work.

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