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Jobena Petonoquot
Kitigan Zibi
courtesy of the artist
1001 Pl. Jean-Paul-Riopelle, Montréal, QC H2Z 1H5


Jobena Petonoquot was born in 1980 in Kitigan Zibi, Quebec. She has a bachelors in Fine Arts, majoring in Art History & a minor in Photography from Concordia University (2012).

Jobena’s art work flows mainly from her maternal grandfather of Anishnabe and Irish descent. She emphasizes resilience and pride in her aboriginal identity, and the defense of traditional values.

She is the winner of the Impressions artist residency (2018) at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Rebellion of my Ancestors has also been exhibited at the Warren G Flowers gallery in 2019. In 2020, her artwork has been featured in the BACA Bienale at Art Mur in Montreal, Quebec. Her work is also collected by the Indigenous Art Centre in Gatineau, Quebec. She is part of Artroduction (2021). Rebellion of my Ancestors will be featured at the Ottawa Art Gallery from March 12th to August 14th 2022, followed by a duo exhibition, “Held in the Hand” at Art Space Galley in Peterborough, Ontario, from September to October, 2022.

Approach and works on display

Through beadwork technique and photography, she creates narrative works that constitute both a critical and sensitive look at Canada’s colonial history, as well as highlighting the beauty of her culture and her love of the land.

Jobena uses beading primarily because she perceives a form of violence in it, as she pierces the fabric. This repetitive gesture then results in the creation of something beautiful and painful, referring to the colonial process.

Through beading, she “indigenizes” non-indigenous art objects, sometimes found objects, or that she makes herself. Also using photography and printing in her artistic practice, Jobena claims to be the sum of her encounters.

We All Drank Tea with the Queen (2011)

We all Drank tea with the Queen is a series of four intaglio prints. This work speaks to the colonial discourse and the relationship of Aboriginal peoples with the monarchy. Jobena adorned each print with beads. This gesture allows her to disrupt the visual writing of the Victorian cameo in order to introduce an alternative narrative about English colonial legacies. Behind the respectability symbol surrounding teatime, Jobena questions the master story and its cardboard facade.

But she also tells us about her own childhood and those “dinette” moments when she, just like all the little girls, simulated, with acculturating happiness, a tea with a Queen in a very English castle. The title of this series, We All Drink Tea with the Queen, is more than a metaphor: it softly speaks about the destruction of a native childhood.

Works by the artist

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