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Marlene Kelly

Generations - My Story

Artists Statement


Tansi, I am 4th generation Cree-Metis beadwork artist. My ancestral home is Ft. Chipewyan & Ft. MacMurray AB. I am privileged to live in the unceded territory of the K’omoks First Nation.

As I sat drawing the design for my pandemic mask, I took comfort in the ease the pattern formed from my mind’s eye to paper. The flowers, the curves of the vines, the shapes of the leaves, every colour I saw transformed with a familiarity of generational knowledge. These are the patterns that my nikâwiy, nokôm and okômâw used and were now passed down to me.

As I started beading, thoughts of convenience, even during this pandemic, floated through my mind. Thoughts of the struggles and hardships of the strong women who came before me. Women who persevered and survived with a lot less than I am blessed with today. Thoughts of the Dr’s orders to keep my 87 year old mom safe inside because she won’t survive this Coronavirus. I will protect her fiercely, lovingly, diligently, patiently until her last breath. One day I will be the matriarch in my family... but not today.

Beading this mask connected me to these strong women. It awakened my soul memory, reminding me that I have the gifts, knowledge and resilience to overcome just as they did but with a lot more conveniences and resources.

Mask: tanned deer hide, cotton bandana
Ties: silk & elastic paracord, rabbit fur pom poms
Beadwork: s11 silver-lined / frosted /metallic / opaque / neon czech glass seed beads, s15 charlottes, s6 glass transparent beads, 11mm multi coloured crystal teardrop beads
Thread: size D white Nymo, 8lb smoke fireline, 6lb crystal fireline

Marlene Kelly 
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