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Tsēmā Igharas

May 30, 2018

Tsēmā Igharas is an interdisciplinary artist and a member of the Tahltan First Nation. She uses Potlatch methodology to create conceptual artwork and teachings influenced by her mentorship in Northwest Coast Formline Design at K’saan (2005/06), her studies in visual culture, and time in the mountains. She has a Bachelor's degree from Emily Carr University of Art and Design (2011) and graduated from the Interdisciplinary Master's in Art, Media and Design program at OCADU. She is currently a contributing member and representative for ReMatriate Collective. She has shown and performed in various places in Canada including the 2016 and 2018 Montreal Contemporary Native Art Biennial, and has exhibited internationally in Chiapas, Mexico; Asheville, USA; and Santiago, Chile. Her solo exhibition future generations is currently on display at Artspace in Peterborough.

1. Copper

It's shiny, beautiful, healthy (for circulation), and conductive. It is my favourite material and is conceptually loaded. I have worked at copper mine sites and use copper as a medium. It helped me to establish an everyday connection to the mine site and its politics. Copper is loaded with meaning and value, and I talk about it in my art as an agent to ancient and contemporary mining practices. In general, my art speaks to material connections to Land and Body, which was initially sparked by working with and thinking about copper, and by showing that others are connected to mine sites through touching and consuming copper products – like a penny or their phones for instance.

2. Tāłtān culture

I have been actively learning more about my culture since attempting to brain-tan a moose hide with my grandparents and Tahltan community member Penny Louie, and from being exposed to the unique Tahltan art style. Lately, I have been looking at Tahltan shapes and patterns as abstract-modern. I have featured Tahltan art style in a series I have named Tahltan Futurism. The revitalization and recovery of old ways and philosophy will happen through practicing Tahltan art and learning Tāłtān language.

3. The end of the world

I am obsessed with the end of the world or, like one of my mentors, artist Merritt Johnson, says, “zombie apocalyptic fantasies.” I eat it up and also translate this obsession into art. On a personal level I consume even terribly made futuristic-themed mainstream media. Another factor in my interest is that I grew up in a Protestant-Christian home where I was exposed to Armageddon end-times theology. I remember being horrified at first, but then as a coping mechanism started fantasizing about being a survivor/warrior. My show future generations is my take on “end of the world” fantasies from an Indigenous position that also aligns with Indigenous Futurism. I am geeking out as I reference “the upside-down” as colonialism and make a gold mirror sandwich board called apocalypse later that reads “the end is near” on one side and “this is the end” on the other.

4. Mobi the Van

My husband Jonathan and I retrofitted a 2006 Dodge Sprinter Van last May and continued to build it while driving from my hometown of Smithers, BC to Montreal for an art show, and then to New York. We kept driving and building Mobi over the past year. I love our moving home and I’m proud of the work we put in to make it a stealth work vehicle on the outside and a modern apartment studio on the inside. We have mostly “camped” in the city and feel like we are hacking life every day. (You can follow us @tahlipino.)

5. Japan

Traveling to other places, in general, is an obsession of mine. Jonathan and I went to Tokyo for our honeymoon last year and it confirmed our suspicions about the design, food, architecture… so many things. “Japan did it better” – that was our saying. Ever since a project in Grade 5 Social Studies studying Japanese culture, I have wanted to travel there. I am pretty sure my family and friends are sick of hearing about our trip. At one point my mom was sarcastically like, “Japan, Japan, Japan, if I have to hear one more story about Japan…” lol



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