Shelby Lisk

shelby lisk

Shelby Lisk

I am a Haudeosaunee artist of mixed-race ancestry. I investigate my identity throughout my artwork by exploring my gender roles, relationship dynamics and the position I hold as a Haudenosaunee and Canadian woman and what it means to straddle the line between these identities.

In my current work I have begun to incorporate textiles and knitting to reference the idea of storytelling and the passing down of knowledge from a matrilineal line. I am interested in exploring feminine characteristics and practices and their position as subordinate to male practices. As I have done in the past, I am using these ideas to emphasize the importance of non-institutionalized knowledge that is passed in ways such as personal stories, traditions, and craft.

What do you hope to accomplish during the residency?

In a residency last year on Toronto Island I was inspired by the beautiful landscape surrounding me to explore my connection to the land –specifically the water. I have a displaced connection to land as someone who did not grow up in my community, and also as a woman who is trying to reconcile her identity of holding the position of both the colonized and the colonizer – my mother being of Mohawk decent, and my father of European, and what it means within all this to be a “Canadian”.

Furthermore, in my personal work I have begun to think about the interconnectedness of being female, Haudenosaunee, and suffering from mental illness. I am interested in how these three components of my identity become invisible and ignored in society and are issues that people don’t want to talk about, however are also things that I can choose to try to “hide” or downplay so that I can move through the world in an easier manner. There is a constant struggle or tension between invisibility and visibility that is always at play in the way that I think about my artwork.

Lake Ontario has always been an important body of water to the Iroquois people and it is the water that I grew up on. I have always felt more connected to water than to any specific piece of land. I wish to further explore the history of Lake Ontario and its significance to me as an Iroquois woman.

Find out more about Lisk, click here.

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