I could never find myself in a photo…

The stigma thrust upon Indigenous women by the media makes it impossible for me to fully identify myself in a self-portrait. There are so many faces in the media that look like mine. The violence against Indigenous women is so prevalent, the stereotypes so demeaning, the sexualization so permissive that it impossible for me to find myself in a photo.

The stigma thrust upon Indigenous women by the media makes it impossible for me to fully identify myself in a self-portrait. There are so many faces in the media that look like mine. The violence against Indigenous women is so prevalent, the stereotypes so demeaning, the sexualization so permissive that it impossible for me to find myself in a photo.

Media has an impact on how we perceive ourselves.

I started my journey as a fat positive, middle-aged, female challenging the media standard of beauty with a camera, a home studio and a commitment to diversity. Far from the beauty norm I strived to emulate the beauty in magazines, film and music videos. I photographed myself with flowing fabric, lots of sparkly things, jewels and flowers

As I became more comfortable with my body I shot several series of artistic nudes. This led to an understanding of a wide spectrum of nudity and stereotype in the media. I was not simply a nude woman on the Internet; I was a nude Indigenous woman on the Internet. I experienced a very specific type of cyber violence filled with racial slurs and a perceived colonial entitlement to my body. I learned to use my Indigenous body to resist media and state crimes committed against the Indigenous body. I took what I believed to be a brave stance and I still felt separated from myself.

Resisting the stereotypes attached to Indigenous women in my photographs was helpful. However the stigma thrust upon Indigenous women by the media makes it impossible for me to fully identify myself in a self-portrait. There are so many faces in the media that look like mine. The violence against Indigenous women is so prevalent, the stereotypes so demeaning, the sexualization so permissive that it impossible for me to find myself in a photo.

I had to create a safe space to heal so I learned to paint. I relocate my Indigenous body in paintings where my mind and body is unfettered with the social construct on the “Indigenous” woman. Thankfully, I  can see myself in my paintings.

You can find me here

camera My artistic journey has taken a different turn. I enjoyed the fat-positive project of self-portraits but as I have become more aware of what is means to be an Indigenous Woman, the meaning of my art has changed. Often when I would photograph myself I would have an idea, move through the shoot and construct later. Now the construct of my photos has become deeper, more meaningful. I continue to further the narrative of past photos. Some of my photos are used as a teaching tools. I developed a lecture series that analyses the objectification of Indigenous women in mainstream media, stereotypes and the clinical gaze of the Indigenous body. I relate this to my photographic process and my experience of posting artistic nudes online. I use the Indigenous body, my Indigenous body, to resist the sexualization and violence perpetrated against Indigenous women.

I also use digital paintings to illustrate the legacy of colonization. Elder and scholar Lee Maracle says, “You have to tell the most horrific story with gentle words”. My paintings tell the story of colonization in the gentlest words I can muster. My life has been deeply enriched by my artistic process and it continues to develop. My new blog lives here a version of my old blog lives here. Love and gratitude, Lisa