MCCORD MUSEUM, MONTREAL
The two women were strangers, both on their way home from work on a chilly Montreal evening. One looked at the other from across the metro and noticed a flash of gold and turquoise. The other looked up and caught her eye, then her eyes fell down, drawn to a beautifully beaded collar hugging her neck with leather ties. “Cedar-eve.” The name flashed through both of the women’s minds at the same time. The colours, the design and the craft were a dead giveaway. Like a secret handshake or wink, those wearing Cedar-eve Creations can recognize the work immediately.
Cedar-eve Peters is a multidisciplinary Ojibway artist. “I’m Ojibway nation and I’m an artist,” Cedar explained during an interview, as I helped her pack up her jewellery after a day of tabling at Concordia University. “But I wouldn’t necessarily say I’m an Objiway artist. I make art because I make art, not because it’s what’s expected of me.” Cedar has always known that she is an artist, as the talent was passed on through generations. “My dad’s a painter,” she explained. “Some of my family members are ceramicists and painters, and my grandma used to do quill work.” At Rosedale Heights School of the Arts, in Toronto, Cedar focused more on photography and drawing. Later, she became interested in beadwork, and taught herself how to bead by watching online videos. “The Internet taught me, in a way. From there, I started playing,” she said. Today, Cedar’s work can be purchased at Montreal’s Mccord Museum, as well as various powwows, festivals and events. But recognition didn’t happen overnight. “It has been a struggle,” Cedar admitted, after discussing an accident—she slipped on ice and fractured her writing hand—that held her back for a while and pushed her deeper into the realization that her soul “needed to be producing all the time.”
These days, Cedar is exceeding even her own expectations, as her work— which also includes self-portraits, acrylic-on-canvas paintings and a line of silkscreened T-shirts—garners steadily growing attention. Some of the hype comes from her active presence on Facebook and Instagram (@cedareve), where she posts images of newly beaded shoulder dusters or carefully crafted chokers.
For some, high class means wearing expensive brand names. For others, especially anyone with a foot inside the world of Indigenous art, culture and design, it means supporting an independent Indigenous woman who keeps tradition alive with every reclaimed bead, and pursues her passion with every stroke. —EMILEE GILPIN
Beaded earrings by Cedareve Creations