Morgan Possberg Denne, Artist – Calgary
Morgan Possberg Denne is a Two-spirit millennial scoop and foster care survivor with settler, Cree, Metis, and Chippewa blood connections. They have grown up in Treaty 7 territory, and have relatives in southern and northern Ontario. Morgan creates imaginative, illustrative objects that could be seen as pieces of possible narratives, different ways to connect with the past, and potential futures through layers of abstraction with no right or wrong answer. What matters to them is not accurately recreating the past or to predict the future, but rather to capture an inner truth and a possible alternative reality of colonial experiences – in a sense, creating new culture from a series of “what-ifs” and new stories/lore. Their work will soon be a part of a group exhibition the currents that carry us at the Confederation Centre of the Arts from September 23 until January 7. Their upcoming solo exhibition, My Father’s Cradleboard, will be on display at the New Gallery in Calgary from November 3 until December 22.
- Coffee support meets
I’ve found a lot of grounding in making a concentrated effort to see friends and chat over coffee. It sounds simple, but it’s easy to lose track of friendships as a racialized working artist. I find so much strength in community and my peers, especially other queer, Two-spirit Indigenous artists. It’s so important to share space and laugh together.
- Revitalizing/teaching fish skin tanning
Over the pandemic I learned how to tan fish skins (on Zoom actually!) from Janey Chang, a Vancouver-based artist, fish skin tanner, and knowledge keeper. Since then, I’ve done a lot of research and learning on my own, and have been able to pass on what I know to other Indigenous people by teaching some classes. It’s so important to revitalize these ancestral skills. It’s so healing, and it’s also a tangible way to connect with our ancestors – by doing the same tasks that have been done for tens of thousands of years.
- Fish skin leather
I think fish skin leather is such a beautiful material, and it can be really sustainable too. I’m obsessed with the variety of finishes you can get by tanning your own leather by hand.
- Southern Alberta rivers
While southern Alberta isn’t my ancestral homelands, it’s the place where I’ve grown up and received a lot of teachings about. I feel really deeply for this place. The four main rivers that intersect with this territory – the Elbow, Bow, Oldman, and Milk Rivers – have a really strong, ancient, and wise energy about them. There’s something special about these waterways, especially out on the prairies at dawn or dusk.
- NDN ghost stories
I especially love the NDN ghost stories I’ve heard from southern Alberta. It’s almost impossible not to believe them.