“I Know What It Looks Like” is a research-based art project about my heritage and events throughout Canadian history. This show focuses on my Metis and Japanese-Canadian background, and it is an artistic expression of controversial cultural events in the history of Canada related to those two sides of my ancestry. It consists of 6 large paintings and a selection of original illustrations. Themes include Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, the Residential School system, Reconciliation, Japanese Canadian Internment and the Redress Movement. I introduced 3 colors to my black and white palette; red ochre, yellow ochre, and orange. These colors were meticulously chosen to express specific references found during my research. The imagery also reflects the same attention to fact, as all of the resources I used can be found below. With recognition of the events that guide the themes in this project, we become part of the process of healing and justice; carrying the stories for future generations to learn from.
Special thanks to Edmonton Arts Council Individual Project Grant & Edmonton Japanese Community Association Library.
Content of the selected illustrations ranges from listening to our ancestors, to wearing the land as your identity, to carrying on tradition.
The illustrations are inspired by historical moments of personal interest as well as emotions felt while researching.
ABOUT THE PAINTINGS
Up until this point, my work has been primarily black and white to convey ideas simply and concisely. I decided to introduce three colors to the paintings of this project. In the past, these colors were used to discriminate, to define individuals by their skin, and to create fear based around an incorrect perception. At the very least, the color left a painful memory, as detailed by the references below. I hope to draw attention to the impact these colors have by explaining their negative connotations, as well as reframe that negativity into the positive focus of these paintings; both by giving them new meanings and illuminating other interpretations of the colors.
Redskin: A dated, offensive term for Indigenous Peoples in North America.
oxforddictionaries.com - 'Redskin'
Yellow Peril: A phrase used to create fear towards people of Asian descent, beginning in WWI. It was a racial construct in response to rising concerns of an Asian invasion.
thecanadianencyclopedia.ca - 'Yellow Peril'
Orange Shirt Day: “...former student Phyllis (Jack) Webstad told her story of her first day at residential school when her shiny new orange shirt, bought by her grandmother, was taken from her as a six-year old girl. The annual Orange Shirt Day on September 30th opens the door to global conversation on all aspects of Residential Schools.”
orangeshirtday.org - About Orange Shirt Day