Lisa Shepherd

Wahkohtowin

Artist Statement

I worked through so many thoughts as I stitched this mask. It was like untangling thread. Frustrating at times, but necessary in order to move forward with creating. Like many other artists I've read about, I took a good two weeks of being entirely unproductive at the start of this pandemic hitting our part of the world. Then, one day, I realized how much I was grieving normalcy. Had it really been only two weeks prior that I was sitting with students at a high school, all talking about spring break plans? How fast that changed! With naming the grief, my inspiration and desire to create came back again.

I also thought about our interconnectedness. To each other. To nature. Our family has been escaping to the forest when we can and making offerings to the water. It's a time of feeling very small but, with that, also a release of so much that we seem to carry every day. There is a strange comfort that also comes with loss of all sense of control. Okay, so here we are. Isolating, and at the same time realizing the deep need that we have for each other. For connection to each other and to all living beings.

Has anyone else noticed the sheer joy that a car ride brings? After a month of isolating, I have a better understanding of the perspective of my dogs. In a car ride, as we pass through our city that seems to have slowed down to pace of the small prairie town from my childhood, the colours seem brighter, the sounds more crisp, the air is clean and - oh, that sky! How could we have taken such everyday miracles for granted for so long? There is so much for us to feel grateful for. And yet - never has a beadwork project felt so full of paradox, in a time of fear, uncertainty, and loss.

We are heading into a long weekend. Our family will be staying home. We are going to take time to say our gratitudes. To Creator, to Mother Earth and to each other. Covid19 has happened so fast and many that have come down sick have gone to hospital alone and passed on to the next world. What was left unsaid?

And so, I will try and keep open to all the vivid beauty of the world and try not to take even a single moment for granted. I will tell the people that are dear to me that I love them. I've been saying that a lot lately to every friend that I speak with on the phone or video chat, because I do. On this long weekend, I pray that others will embrace this opportunity to do the same.

Stay home. Be well.

Lisa Shepherd Wahkohtowin

111 Bear Street, Banff, Alberta, T1L 1A3, Canada

T: 1 403 762 2291   

E: info [at] whyte.org

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The Whyte Museum gratefully acknowledges the support of The Peter and Catharine Whyte Foundation and the Alberta Foundation for the Arts

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