Megan Kanerahtenha:wi Whyte
4th Year, Art Education Specialization
What am I? Why am I?
stretched cotton on canvas
84” x 96”
What Am I? Why Am I? is a reflective investigation of the relationships between political energies and traditional teachings of First Nations people. Painting directly on a stretched bed sheet creates an intimate and awkward space for the viewer to investigate the cultural residual of history and years of abuse. More specifically, the painting aims to mirror the tensions that exist between ‘red and white’ stereotypes, the tokenization of “Indians,” and the spiritual understandings Indigenous people integrate into their world views and daily activities. As a result, the imagery and symbolism coupled with the composition of the piece aim to expose the negative effects of stereotype overflow on the construction of identity. This work also reflects the resilience of cultural teachings such as the medicine wheel and storytelling through subtle visual statements and color choices. The constant flow and encounters between these two streams of thought suggest that the definition of what it means to be an Indigenous person in a contemporary society is in continual flux.