First American Art Magazine No. 21, Winter 2018/19 - Page 69

QUINN SMALLBOY at Western University, my studio space became completely entwined with string from wall to wall to wall to floor to wall and all that is in between. Having to duck and weave to get into my studio space or even crawling sometimes to get to a chair was not only interesting but revealing, too. The intersection of lines crisscrossing, looping, and wrapping around each other prove to be an area of visual pleasure and bodily interaction. While we’re talking about art and quantum mechanics … Indigenous cultural representation and identity have been central to your work. I’m curious to know your thoughts on Indigenous futurisms, or what scholars like Jason Lewis (Cherokee descent) refer to as the “future imaginary,” which describes how societies envision themselves in the years to come. I believe it is important that we, as Indigenous artists, see more Indigenous artists get recognized for their accom- plishments and control how their artwork is received. When I work with significant cultural materials and objects, like the drum, I realize that for many gallery and museum visitors, seeing an object of Indigenous culture enter such spaces is an uncommon sight. I think we should see more of them. My contempo- rary interpretation of the drum brings a new idea of Indigenous storytelling into the exhibition context, which differs or is even opposed to how handcrafted drums are used for ceremonial purposes or gallery displays. Memory is a strong theme in your work. For example, your artist statement reads, “Through the use of painting as a language, I explore scenes of memory that reflect who I am as Native artist. I paint landscapes scenes with an inten- sity that reflects the moment in which the subject matter is being depicted.” How does memory function in your work? Yes, definitely memory is a part of my work. One work in particular is called Net. It’s the one drum structure that depicts a common string game usually played by children who form looped string with their hands. The game in question is called cat’s cradle, which everyone may have heard of or played at one point or another. When I was researching cat’s cradle while I was creating Net, I stumbled across other string games like four diamonds and fishing net. To be honest, I remember playing these games when I was 12 or 13 years old. Back then I knew how to make patterns and shapes with string and my hands. The fact that I can still make four above Red Black, 2017, nylon string installation, Artlab Gallery, Western University, London, Ontario. opposite Water, 2017, wood and nylon string. WINTER 2018/19 | 67