My name is Julie McIntosh, and I am a graduate student of the 2024 Master in Design (Interdisciplinary) stream at ECUAD. Over the past eight years, I have contributed to the indigenous art and cultural landscape as a student, writer and journalist.
Author Anaïs Nin once wrote: “We write to taste life twice: in the moments and in retrospection.” As a woman of French, Scottish and Plains Cree descent, I spent my career gathering stories and capturing retrospection from others. As people, we live in stories, and I have been influenced by the desire to retrospect on moments that bring meaning to our lives. It has led me down an unconventional path to create visual art inspired by ideals I’ve come to hold dear.
My recent work has been a blend between contemporary storytelling and what Mi’kmaq Elder Albert Marshall describes as “two-eyed seeing” storytelling. It is the process of blending indigenous knowledge with western world views. My perspective can be described as a merger between the physical and emotional and psycho-spacial derivatives of oral storytelling and western scientific research.
My proposed studies would be a mixture of interviews with community members, knowledge keepers, elders, teachers, as well as modern technology and scholarly resources. I am drawn to the challenge of creating artwork that respects the people who carry its tradition. I am looking to marry this slower, more methodical pace of learning with modern techniques, calling attention to spatial awareness, life, community, and our relationship to one another.
While at ECUAD, I intend to build onto my skill set to understand structures of indigenous storytelling. By creating contemporary mixed-media design and pieces of writing, my work will exemplify the playful, colourful, and light-hearted values in indigenous philosophies (focusing on Cree stories).
Through the lens of my mixed background, I will explore the extent to which organic and inorganic materials can be manipulated to capture the joyful yet powerful minutiae of life. Rabbit hunting, sweat lodge sessions, kokums cooking, mothers and daughters beading, regalia dancing – How do I encourage a wider audience to empathize with the effervescence found at the crux of indigenous identities?
There is space for silly in art. The whimsical world of Misaki Kawai is filled with fuzzy animals you can interact with. She emphasizes a value similarly held by many indigenous craft makers, which is to trust your instincts and to not take yourself too seriously. Perhaps no-one exemplifies this more than Canadian-born folk artist Maud Lewis, who turned her house into living art and surrounded herself with naïve coloured paintings of animals and flowers. Renowned Architect Alfred Waugh also exemplifies the best of indigenous design by focusing on materiality: emphasizing light, nature and reveal, without necessarily connecting to one Nation. I was fortunate to experience his intention first-hand by spending years studying inside one of his buildings – the University of Victoria First Peoples House – as an undergraduate student.
I aspire to weave such playfulness into the tapestry that is the Canadian cultural landscape. I yearn for people to uncover more joyfulness in indigenous cultures. Furthermore, I am eager to draw on and add to the collective knowledge pooled by colleagues and teachers throughout my graduate degree. I later intend to share my research publicly and return my findings to my community.
About me (continued)
Previously, I crafted toys and traditional designs using wood, quilling, beadwork and basketmaking techniques while attending the Aboriginal Visual Arts program at the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design (2022).
I completed a Bachelors of Arts degree in Political Science, minor in Applied Ethics, at the University of Victoria (2016).
I switched my career path from Communications to full-time art. But you can read my impressive communications CV here.