The Artist Spotlight series aims to celebrate creators at a time when art is being consumed the most. This week features Krystle Silverfox, a Yukon artist working in interdisciplinary and visual arts. Krystle is one of the 2021 finalists for the Yukon Prize for Visual Arts. This artist spotlight is part of a collaboration between artsUNITE and the Yukon Arts Centre.
Can you share a little background about yourself and your background in the creative field?
I am a Northern Tutchone visual artist based out of New Westminster, BC. I have a BFA in visual arts from UBC (2016) and an MFA in Interdisciplinary Studies from Simon Fraser University (2019). My artistic practice blends concepts and mediums to create dialogue and communicate ideas.
What are you working on/up to right now?
I am currently working on making a large topographical map made of beads and embroidery – its been a fun and creative way to think of recording and documenting land and territory.
Is there a quote/ mantra you live by, how has that shaped your practice?
Not really a quote or mantra – but the idea that a rejection letter is the same thing as not applying oneself. This concept has encouraged me to apply to every opportunity possible, and not to take rejections personally.
“Ets’edegél’ (spear game).” 2020. Cedar, acrylic paint, copper leaf.
What inspires and/or motivates you right now? Do you feel inspired/motivated right now?
Currently I am inspired by minimalism, in art and in life.
What is the most important tool in your practice? (Is something you can’t live without in your studio/space?)
My camera is my most important tool – I never leave home without it. It has been an invaluable tool for me to document and find inspiration in everyday life.
You mention Indigenous Feminism as inspiration to your artwork; what, specifically does Indigenous Feminism mean to you, and how does this manifest in your artwork and process?
For me, Indigenous Feminism is the idea that there are multiple genders and gender roles within Indigenous cultures/societies that are different yet valued and upheld equally. As an Indigenous woman, this means respecting traditional women’s arts (such as beading, textiles) as a part of my own identity, and as a powerful tool of communication and community.
“Hats’adän echo (Elder’s teachings).” 2020. Digital collage 18” x 12”.
As a multimedia artist, you draw on many different mediums and materials in your work; how do you identify the different representational objects in your artwork? What role does material play in illustrating larger concepts/cultural spaces?
A large part of my artistic practice includes material research – studying belongings and artefacts held in museums, galleries, and collections – this helps me to learn new techniques and skills. Materials and belongings often inspire me in my practice – in many First Nations cultures material belongings are considered to have their own stories and connections. Materials are also incredible agents of communicating ideas – such as connections to land/territories.
As an artist, what are you looking for when reaching out to the ‘creative community’? How are you finding support? (do you feel supported?)
As an artist, it is so important to make connections to the arts communities and finding new allies and mentors – regardless of what stage my career may be in, new relationships and connections are invaluable tools. As an artist, I am looking for a life long career where my work can inspire others but also where I can support myself financially.
“Royal Tease.” 2020 Digital C-Type Print 51″ x 34″
What do you think companies/collectives/local organizations need to be focusing on to address the ongoing systemic racial inequalities in the arts and culture sector?
Companies, collectives and local organizations need to challenge structural inequalities – questions like who is being represented at each level (ie, are the only POC working for the organization in lower paying roles/service?) as well as following various recommendations such as the TRC, UNDRIP, MMIWGs Calls for Justice. Companies, collectives, and organizations should also make connections to local Indigenous governments of their region.
What, in your opinion, is the artist’s responsibility to represent culture? What role does this question play in your work, and what advice would you give to emerging artists exploring this question?
It is so very important for the artist to be responsibly and respectfully represent their own culture. As a Northern Tutchone artist, I want to avoid misrepresentation or disrespect and so following protocol (Doolí law) is a large part of my own path as an artist – this means asking for help, being open to change, and life long learning with my community. My advice to emerging artists is for them to thoughtfully and respectfully draw inspiration from their own family/community/culture/location(s)/history, and to use art to tell their own stories.