1001 Pl. Jean-Paul-Riopelle, Montréal, QC H2Z 1H5
Catherine Blackburn was born in Patuanak Saskatchewan, of Dene and European ancestry, and is a member of the English River First Nation. She is a multidisciplinary artist and jeweller, whose common themes address Canada’s colonial past that are often prompted by personal narratives. Her work merges mixed media and fashion to create dialogue between historical art forms and new interpretations of them.
Her work has exhibited in notable national and international exhibitions and fashion runways, including BorderLINE: 2020 Biennial of Contemporary Art, Àbadakone: National Gallery of Canada, Santa Fe Haute Couture Fashion Show, and Art Encounters on the Edge, Bonavista Biennale, Newfoundland. She has received numerous grants and awards for her work, including the Saskatchewan RBC Emerging Artist Award, the Melissa Levin Emerging Artist Award, a publication in Vogue’s online magazine, as well as being included on the 2019 Sobey Art Award longlist.
Approach and works on display
Catherine Blackburn is a multidisciplinary artist and jeweller, whose common themes address Canada’s colonial past that is often prompted by personal narratives.
Her work merges mixed media and fashion to create dialogue between historical art forms and new interpretations of them. Through utilizing beadwork and other historical adornment techniques, she creates space to explore Indigenous sovereignty, decolonization and representation.
But there’s no scar? (2019)
Braids connected to the body and fused together in the center of the frame. These two pictures evoke the use of ancestral medicines that propose a principle of healing built on the understanding that atrocities done to the mind, body and soul are only transgressions. They do not define who we are, nor do they determine our individual or collective future. If scientific medicines have difficulties dealing with the links between body and spirit that they cannot name, they are not the same as scientific medicines. Ancestral healing medicines draw on this indefinable link that binds us to the earth and its power of resilience.
Blackburn looks at the ways in which we perceive, understand, name and define pain and trauma. She points out that this analytical activity imposed by scientific medicine in turn defines the way society marginalizes collective bodies and generalizes trauma. Through these works, she urges us to decolonize our view of what a good healing, resilient process is and how it should be done.