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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Assembly Line Chief (2010)

Assembly Line Chief questions the collection of the contemporary “traditional” Indian Artifact. When I was a young adult, a non-Aboriginal friend of mine bought one of these plastic Chief’s bonnets and hung it from his rear-view mirror. He was proud of this item feeling that he had gotten a piece of Traditional Indian culture. All I could think was, “it’s made with safety pins!”  Nevertheless, items such as these play many roles in society: they remind us of the continued stereotyping of Aboriginal people through the commodification of such goods, they represent a way to make a living, in a small kitschy way they represent our culture and they provide humor because of that kitschy-ness.
Ultimately, though, a Chief cannot be made on a plastic and safety pin assembly line.
Assembly Line Chief detail images 2010) plastic beads and safety pins, 31” x 61”
Assembly Line Chief wall installation (2010) plastic beads and safety pins, 31” x 61”