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.

Image Alt

Issue/d Paper (2008)

I decided to use the parfleche (traditional Aboriginal bags made of rawhide) and the ledger to look at the stories and issues that exist within myself regarding my family and my life experiences. Traditionally the parfleche would have been made of rawhide, however, it was hard to get my hands on buffalo rawhide.  Instead I chose to make the parfleche out of handmade paper, which was a more readily available medium. I chose to reproduce two of the four styles of bags that exist to hold the baggage of each issue I was dealing with. For example, I chose the man’s flat case parfleche to hold the men’s stories and issues. In Side by Side I honored my son at this specific point in his life by making a man’s bag for him.


As a Plains Cree artist I became interested in researching historical parfleche bags and ledger drawings to further understand art making practices for Plains Indian people. My use of the parfleche and ledger is to reference the melding of the past with the present to ultimately show that Aboriginal people are strong and have strong cultural values and belief systems that are not static; rather we grow. In addition, I use the family photograph to tell stories or to aid in storytelling.


I have created a parfleche for my son in the men’s flat case style. These bags would have traditionally been decorated with an abstract design however I have chosen each element according to my son’s spirit with the incised portion being his first tag. In reference to Jeff Thomas’s work the snapshots are taken of my son with various graffiti throughout Regina that references a strong Indian presence, and also asserts our identity as Urban Indians.


Childhood Memories (2007) handmade paper, thistles, family photos & synthetic sinew, sound 19”L x 8” W x 7” H.


Indian White Relations (2006) handmade paper, snapshots, leather, plastic cowboy & Indian toys 5” L x 16” W.


Indian White Relations, detail.


Indian White Relations, detail.


Indian White Relations, detail.


You Miss Me Not… (2007) handmade paper, daisies, family photos, 10” L x 5” W x 4 ½” H.


You Miss Me Not…, detail.


I am… (2007) handmade paper, beer caps & labels, & cigarette butts, 11” L x 8” W x 7 ½ H.


I am…, detail (2007) handmade paper, beer caps & labels, & cigarette butts, 11” L x 8” W x 7 ½ H.


Side by Side (2006) handmade paper, snapshots, leather and tech deck, 4’4” L x 1’W x 10” H.


Side by Side, detail.


Side by Side, detail.


Side by Side, detail.


Secrets (2008) handmade paper, porcupine quills, & leather, 9” L x 7” W x 6” H.


Secrets, detail.