Diluting the Truth
My interest lies in becoming a graphic designer and so I signed up to do my co-op placement with SEVEN to hone those skills.
The collage is titled ‘Diluting the Truth,’ and was the result of a project I was assigned as part of my co-op placement that combines my research and art & design skills. (After I did the project my supervisor confessed to me the real reason she assigned this project to me was becauseshe wanted me to fully understand my Aboriginal heritage and to know where I stand in today’s society in Canada).
The final image you see is the result of a research project I was assigned that asked “how does the Aboriginal youth experience of today compare with that of Canadians in broader society of the same age group?” And more specifically I was tasked with looking at key indicators for First Nations youth in the following areas, including for health, education, employment, social status and overall wellbeing and comparing those indicators with that of ‘the average Canadian kid’ of the same age group.
Once I had collected all the data, I was asked to create a piece of artwork that conveys what my individual understanding of all of my research is. From the research I did, I learned upsetting information about my people, like racism and violence that they have had to face just because of their skin colour.
If you take a close look at the background of the image, you can see racial slurs that are used to describe Aboriginal people, some of them I hadn’t even heard of until I began my research. The young girl depicted in this artwork represents all of Aboriginal kind.
Her image came to me when I was learning about the innocence of First Nation people at the time of contact. Her dress is also symbolic of her culture, but if you look closer at her posture and facial expression you see she is visibly upset and looking fearful for herself and she is ashamed of who she is. She’s holding her arms up in a protective gesture as if to cover herself up.
As I said, I was asked to create a piece of art that expresses the collective Aboriginal youth experience of today, but from my perspective. And that the truth is, what I learned is that unfortunately, many Aboriginal people are still experiencing poverty, poor health, violence, and racism.
In March of 2006, CBC Manitoba surveyed more than 1,000 people asking “who do you think gets affected with racism more?” Fifty-five per cent of the survey’s respondents said that they felt Aboriginal people were most likely to be victims of racism in the community. What a huge percentage.
It is no surprise that some youth are using negative solutions to make them feel better or are changing their outer appearance just to avoid racism that is directed towards them. Despite the obstacle that many Aboriginal people had to face, we are slowly improving our lives while re-discovering our traditional values after years of oppression.
Being ashamed about who you are isn’t a life that anyone should endure, no matter what racial background you come from. I hope, with this collage, that it can reach to the public telling them that everyone is equal, that we are one and not people who should be divided into groups.
The materials I used to create this piece were printed-images from the computer, black & white acrylic paint, markers, and blue construction paper.
About the Artist
St. John Emile Kakekagumick is an Aboriginal artist from Sandy Lake. He will graduate from Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School this May and has been accepted into the Graphic Design at Humber College. His main goal when creating pieces of artwork is to provoke thought or emotions in viewers so they can relate to it or think about the subject matter. St. John was born at Health Science Centre Women Hospital in Winnipeg, Manitoba on October 20 1988. By the age six, he interest for art began to soar. Even at a young age, his eye for colour and detail was recognized by his peers. During his time in middle school, St. John devoted countless hours drawing which negatively made him fall behind in school. However, St. John came to appreciate the importance of education as he grew older and became a much more accomplished artist, but who also maintains excellent grades.
“When it comes to Art & Design, I take it very seriously. It’s my passion, and doing what I love is definitely what I live for.”~ St. John Kakekagumick