2022 Forge Fellow Catherine Blackburn in Conversation


Oct 27, 2022


Thursday, October 27, 2022, at 6 PM ET, join Forge Project 2022 Fellow Catherine Blackburn (Dene) for a presentation on her current work and process, including her contemporary beadwork and jewelry studio.

Catherine’s practice combines various modes of making including, but not limited to, beadwork, stitch-work, photography, video, fashion and collaboration to explore themes of identity, memory, language, land, and sovereignty, often through a narrative framework. Her work is predominantly beadwork based, however other historical textile applications are sometimes incorporated, such as animal hair tufting and porcupine quillwork. Catherine’s practice utilizes mixed media to create dialogue between historical art forms and new interpretations of them and has evolved quite predominantly the last four years with a particular interest in merging sculpture and fine art with fashion.

Catherine often utilizes natural materials in her work such as animal hides, fur, hair, bone and other components that are found, harvested or traded. “Through their incorporation I am able to honor the land and the immense community-based labors of love of which they are harvested and prepared,” Catherine says.

Through the perspective of these artforms being living, there is no power dynamic that exists through maker and material. In this way the labor of the making becomes a collaboration with the materials. Through stitch-work I explore how Indigenous adornment weaves our stories, teachings and knowledges into our bodies.

Catherine's handmade jewelry is inspired by the northern floral and geometric designs of her Dene roots, Her Indigenous-made dynamic collection exudes edgy glamor and timeless Northern design in jewelry that is both refined and functional.

About Catherine Blackburn

Catherine Blackburn was born in Patuanak, Saskatchewan, of Dene and European ancestry and is a member of the English River First Nation. She is a multidisciplinary artist and jeweler, whose common themes address Canada's colonial past that are often prompted by personal narratives. Inspired by her late Setsuné’s (grandmother) incredible talent of garment making, hide-tanning, and adornment, her work grounds itself in the Indigenous feminine and is bound through the ancestral love that stitching suggests. Through stitchwork, she honors her cultural history, using these techniques and materials as “storiers” while challenging perspectives of contemporary Indigenous experience.

Her work has exhibited in notable national and international exhibitions and fashion runways including; Àbadakone: National Gallery of Canada, Santa Fe Haute Couture Fashion Show, New Mexico and Radical Stitch: The Mackenzie Art Gallery. She has received numerous grants and awards for her work, including the Saskatchewan RBC Emerging Artist Award, the Melissa Levin Emerging Artist Award, publications in Vogue and In Style magazines, her inclusion on the 2019 Sobey Art Award longlist, and was 1/5 Eitlejorg Contemporary Art Fellows in 2021.

Image courtesy Thatcher Keats.


Catherine Blackburn, Beadwork, Fashion

2022 Forge Fellow Catherine Blackburn in Conversation