wâpan (dawn, early morning)
cyanotype treated jacquard cotton, 8/0 czech seed beads, aluminum chain, felt. 8.75×11.25″
This was the first piece I created in the series and initially I had no clear direction on where I would be headed. I had recently just worked with the teens in Nanaimo Art Gallery’s Dazzle Camouflage program, and led them in the creation of a cyanotype quilt. Having just worked with the medium had it fresh in my mind, and it was a medium I used to use a lot in my younger years.
As an avid beadworker, seed beads are something I always have close within reach, and the chain here is something I often use in my beadwork projects. When I started to think about beading and chains. the idea of an intergenerational thread or chain started to form in my mind. In thinking of those ties and wanting to heal and move forward in a good way, I decided to lay some medicine down on the cyanotype print as well. This print has cedar I gathered and dried myself, and prairie sage that was gifted to me by a friend the last time they were in our homelands – treaty 6 territory.
It wasn’t until I fully completed all 6 cyanotype prints that I started to think about sewing things onto them, but after that decision was made, I thought using the beads, chain, and cedar I used in the printmaking would be a nice way to add texture and develop the idea further.
The chain becomes an important piece in this series, as upon reflection, it symbolizes the ties we have to our family, their experiences, and how intergenerationa trauma is carried within family lines and passed down.
I named the piece wâpan because it symbolized the start, the dawn in series of pieces, the early moments of an idea forming. Naming thing using nêhiyawewin is an important act of reclamation and healing, as these are the things that were stolen from us when my family members were forced into residential schools.