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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Family Portrait (2014-2016)

Capped Manuscript Illumination…Indigenized series (2016) and Manuscript Illumination…Indigenized series (2016)


While in London, England at the Prince’s School of Art I learned manuscript illumination. Because I was dissatisfied with the results of my attempts at learning manuscript illumination, this method of making has had a huge impact on my work. I began to conceive of ways in which I could have a discussion with it. As a result, I created this body of work that fuses manuscript illumination with beadwork and graffiti, here I beaded the first letter from the first name of each person in my immediate family, four in total, in the exact script and design I learned in the course. Then, by again collaborating with Cruz, we co-created a second set of initials in graffiti hand-style, which I then beaded. This body of work has two titles: “Family Portrait: Manuscript Illumination…Indigenized” and “Family Portrait: Capped Manuscript Illumination…Indigenized.” These are playful or tongue-in-cheek titles because to cap is to go over another graffiti artist’s work. In this instance, I was capping the process of Indigenization as reflected in the beading method as well as the graffiti style. The work is deeply political speaking to colonial efforts to erase oral tradition through the written word and to also eradicate Indigenous families.


IMAGE CREDIT: Andrew Barcham