Judy Anderson is Nêhiyaw (Cree) from Gordon First Nation, Saskatchewan, Treaty 4 territory and an Associate Professor of Canadian Indigenous Studio Art in the Department of Art at the University of Calgary. Anderson’s practice includes beadwork, installation, hand-made paper, painting, three-dimensional pieces, and, collaborative projects all of which are deeply personalwith a focus on issues of spirituality, family, colonialism and Indigenous epistemological and ontological traditions.

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Looking Beyond

Looking Beyond was originally created for a show that addressed the appropriation of sacred Aboriginal burial sites for the expansion of European settlement. These mounds, cast from my pregnant belly, are tiny representations of the womb of Mother Earth. Through the use of handmade paper and natural items added to the mounds I reference Mother Earth, spirituality and the cyclical nature of life and death. While the image of the burial mound relates to death, the womb refers to the move from the spiritual world to the temporal world. We are born through the wombs of our mothers from a place that is warm, wet and a loving environment. This is the same for the Sweat Lodge, which is known as the Womb of Mother Earth. When we go to Sweat we are cleansing ourselves and upon exiting the lodge it is like being re-born as we crawl out. I created twenty handmade paper bellies each with a different natural element: tobacco, muskeg, shells, blueberries, women’s sage, etc. These elements refer to Mother Earth and remind the viewer of the traditional uses of these items. Tobacco and sage are medicines used in prayer. Shells hold the sage as it burns. Blueberries are medicines and are used as offerings in certain ceremonies. In addition, are four bellies that have objects with political associations: golf balls and tees, pennies, Tim Horton’s coffee cups and cigarette butts. The golf balls refer to the Oka Crisis, cigarette butts to the misuse of tobacco, coffee cups to garbage and abuse of Mother Earth, and pennies to the Queen and the move to a monetary driven society.


The work was also part of the Issue/d Paper exhibition. View other work here.




Looking Beyond (2004) handmade paper & mixed media, each mound measures 15” Round x 10” H.


Looking Beyond (2004) handmade paper & mixed media, each mound measures 15” Round x 10” H.


Looking Beyond, detail, Sage.


Looking Beyond , detail, Shells.


Looking Beyond, detail, Golfballs.