CHEYANNE CONNELL, MA
PhD Student | Artist
My art is an expression of the affects and facets of indigeneity, colonialism, and surrounding environments. Though each art piece represents a unique experience, theme, or idea, there are a few stylistic choices that are common throughout each painting. Inspired by popularized Cree and Ojibwe artists, characters are always given yellow eyes to represent their Indigenous being/existence/embodiments. I then integrate/mix/distort these key stylistics with less my own elements of high contrast lighting and textures. Most importantly, all the people painted are Indigenous people, meaning that all hair styles and colours, skin colour, and bodily details are representative of being Indigenous.
Due to my anthropology background, even when creating art, I often find myself identifying and (over)analyzing various aspects of my identity, life experiences, and environments. Mainly, I end up worrying a lot about Indigenous representation and its affects. What Indigenous tropes are being reproduced in this? How might this shaped one's identity-making process? Why is traditional performativity often privileged over multicultural, contemporary realities? And how can I make more space for identities and experiences like mine, an urban, mixed native? While I am currently working on answering many of those questions through my own academic research and scholarship, I also want to prioritize more personal and creative efforts (ones that don't require several dozen citations). Thus, through all my art and its distinctive elements, I aim to demonstrate my own Indigenous realities, and contribute to the expansion and diversifying of contemporary Indigenous representation in public worlds.