Kaade Ginebek Ngiibwaadan Oweyan

Kay Nadjiwon

A landscape image of a forest and a creek covered in snow taken. The image has been taken from uphill, giving an expansive look into the forest. The subject is in the center of the image, closer to the bottom. They are surrounded by trees and branches but are visible in a small clearing. Their back is facing the camera and they are wearing a black long-sleeve shirt and an orange patterned ribbon skirt with three green and yellow ribbons wrapping around the bottom half of the skirt. The creek is visible from the bottom left corner of the image and trails up towards the center.

I dream of being a Salamander. To slip from the palm of intruders’ hands with ease and return to my abode deep beneath the ground. To wake at the sound of raindrops, to move from winter burrows to springtime pools. However, Salamanders have many things working against them: soft bellies that drag against asphalt and the threat of rubber tires speeding past. I dream of being a Salamander. To be guided to my birthplace by the Earth’s magnetic field, to know my path home like the back of my hand. I remind myself of a Salamander: struggling mightily to reach my homeland, prepared to lose parts of myself along the way. I dream of being a Salamander. To regrow. To renew. To return.

Kaade Ginebek Ngiibwaadan Oweyan is a visual exploration of my concept of home as an Indigenous person who has been displaced from their ancestral homelands. In this series, I utilize natural plant dyes, my surrounding landscape, personal items, and Indigenous histories to question and search for what home means to me. I explore how I can reconnect to my sense of home through creative methods that are materially and conceptually involved with the lands I call home.

*Anishinaabemowin translation of thesis title by Henry Pitawanakwat

House at The Point: A black and white image of an old wooden house with a wrap around balcony sits on top of a small hill, surrounded by trees on either side. A dirt path is visible in the bottom left corner of the image. The image has been transferred to a piece of watercolour paper dyed with Sage that is green-brown in colour.
Moccasins: A pair of baby buckskin moccasins with orange, green, and gold beaded details seen from a birds eye view. The moccasins are in the center of the image, sitting on a small sheet of ice that is forming at the edge of a creek, during golden hour. There are small specks of light visible in the creek water at the top half of the image and shadows of the grass form the bottom half of the image.
Niizh Jiibayag: An obscure and dreamlike image of two full-body shadow figures, with the one on the right being more visible. The figures are blocking a shining light coming from behind them, making them appear almost angelic. Water and a pier are nearly amorphous, fuzzy in the background. The moon can be seen in the center of the left figure's chest. The image is yellow-orange and pink overall.
Nokomis and Rose: A colour image of a black and white archival print of the artist's grandmother and grandaunt as babies. They are both sitting in the grass, with one sister wrapping her arm around the shoulder of her younger sibling. The girl on the left is wearing dark overalls, a white shirt and boots, and the girl on the right is wearing a white dress and boots. A dilapidated wooden shack and a chicken can be seen in the top right hand corner. The archival image is placed in the center of the forest floor with a log covered in moss. There are dried fallen leaves and Cedar that has turned orange surrounding the image.
Self Portrait: A black and white portrait of the artist against a plain backdrop, who is turned 3/4, facing the left and looking down towards the ground. They are wearing a pair of fringe beaded earrings and a black shirt. The image has been transferred to a piece of watercolour paper dyed with Sweetgrass that is light green in colour.
Smudging My Ancestors: Portrait of the artist wearing a black shirt with their back turned 3/4 away from the camera as they hold an abalone shell with burning Sage just outside of an open window to the right. The room is dark but it is daylight outside and a large pine tree is visible from the window.
Star Blanket: A hand-sewn eight point star design inspired by Indigenous star blankets/quilts. The diamond shapes are printed archival images from the artist and their idea of home; some images include friends, family, summer vacations, concerts, and places that feel comforting. There are also a few diamond shapes that have been cut from a floral fabric. The design is backed onto a white cotton bedsheet.
Kay Nadjiwon

Kay Nadjiwon

Kay Nadjiwon is a two-spirit Anishinaabe lens-based artist working in Treaty 13. They are currently completing their BFA in Photography at Toronto Metropolitan University and are a prospective Interdisciplinary Media, Art and Design MFA student at OCAD University. Their artistic practice focuses on issues of identity, memory, trauma and belonging. Nadjiwon uses archival materials, alternative processes and interdisciplinary methods to situate feelings of grief as a site for social and spiritual connection. Their practice includes photography, video, collage and installation.