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Elijah Wells | Artist of the Month | June 2024



Elijah Wells is a Kainai animation artist, visual artist. His artistic focus in the past five years has been on exploring the movements of dance and how it translates through various mediums. His founding philosophies in artistic approach are the representation of Blackfoot/Kainai cultural histories of 3rd and 4th gender persons and acknowledging the ether aspects of dance and combining them in animation art. He started in animation through Quickdraw programming and now focuses on painting and collage as his main mediums. He is inspired by traditional Blackfoot stories and his experience on the land.

 

He has work in the Pitt Rivers Museum in their permanent collection and has participated in various residencies at the Banff Center, Art Commons and most recently in Smithers BC. He is also co-director of Wild Mint Arts, a Calgary-based Indigenous performing arts company.


Art Descriptions


INNI Under A Translucent Sky

This is the Innii claiming their rightful place back on the plains. Innii make the foothills and plains rich in life/biodiversity and as a keystone species their return will make the plains rich again and revive the landscape that is struggling under cows and industrial farmland and irrigation practices. In this painting the INNII are in their rightful place and forefront of the vibrant relationship between them, the plains, and the mountains.


Whyte Museum Installation, 2022

I had the opportunity to participate in a group installation for Canada supported by the Whyte Museum and Dawn Saunders Dahl. One my pieces was installed high up in a tree along a pathway. This piece for me is about the return of the otter to the bow river. One time, while the river was low, I saw a river otter for the first time just above the falls in Banff. It was playing in th rapids and running back to flow down the rapids again. I watched it for a while and this was my inspiration. Just as the river otter returns, so does our language. 


This Is My Cosmology 2022

“This Is My Cosmology” interrogates the source of language as divinely given, and the relationship to the bison as our kin. My interest in Blackfoot history is supported by my research into the effects of colonization practices on the Blackfoot people related to the slaughter of the bison. This is a central image in the work that I do at the same time working in my language revitalization and honouring that sacred relationship we have with iinnii.


Apaanii, 2019

This painting was part of my "Portals" series that was created while I had a residency at Arts Commons. Apaanii was inspired by the Apaanii symbols on the top of Blackfoot lodges. It inspired me to write a reminder poem of two-spirit people and to remind ourselves that we are wanted and cherished. 


Check out Elijah on Instagram!



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