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Marjie Crop Eared Wolf | Artist of the Month | March 2024

Marjie Crop Eared Wolf is a Káínai Secwépemc Multidisciplinary Artist as well as is an Indigenous writer, designer, and liaison. Crop Eared Wolf graduated with a Bachelors of Fine Art in 2009 from the University of Lethbridge, Alberta. She also received a Kainai Studies Certificate from the Red Crow Community College in 2015. Crop Eared Wolf works with a variety of artistic mediums such as painting, drawing, print making, photography, and installation.

Her art practice is inspired by her Káínai and Secwépemc culture, Crop Eared Wolf counts herself among the many past and present Niitsitapi women who often work collectively and express Niitsitapi concepts and knowledges in their art. She described her art practice:

I collaborate with people in my family and community. There are other Niitsitapi artists that, I think, share this experience. I learn from my mother, and I have other mentors who also support me and share their knowledge. My practice is shaped by their stories and teachings, so I don’t see the art as separate from their teachings… Also, there is a sense of responsibility that comes with it… I want my artwork to contribute to maintaining the knowledges, teachings, and stories for the next generations.

Crop Eared Wolf combines her experiences as an artist and liaison to offer services to clients as a researcher, content developer and community consultant for various interpretive projects. Her professional experience and contacts include Blood Tribe, Parks Canada, Waterton Lakes National Park, Lake Louise, Banff, Jasper Indigenous Forum, Paahtómahksikimi Cultural Centre, Galt Museum, as well as the City of Lethbridge.

Art Descriptions

Niitsi'powahsin Blackfoot Language 2022

Drawing Artwork comissioned for Red Crow College

This art piece combines densely composed large-scale drawings comprised of thousands of Blackfoot words transcribed from the Blackfoot Dictionary. This art piece layers references to our language Niisi'powahsin and its connecton to our home and our land Nitawahsin’nanni. I have created a map of the Niitsitapi Territory. I have included the Blackfoot names of rivers written in blue.

This art piece speaks to the oral and textual ways of learning and knowing the intergenerational transmission and revitalization of language Niitsi'powahsin.

Niisitapi Chess Set 2017 & 2023

Sculptural Installation Artwork created for Landmarks course and, commissioned to create second version for the University of Lethbridge Art Gallery Collection

This art piece inspired by Niitsitapi symbols and images. The inclusion of these symbols as representations of art, history, culture, elements of the sacred kinship with all life. The TRC related to educatin, museums, and reconciliation. I was granted a artist recidency at the U of L and created the secound version. It is essential that the set continues to be active and engage with, thus there will be ongoing occasions to play chess, and through play, open up dialouge between settlers and Niisitapi.

Contemporary Pictographs

Red spray paint, digital files/photographs 

I have created a photo series inspired by the traditional art of my Káínai Secwépemc culture. Pictographs were used to record events as in winter counts, coupe record and spiritual gifts received. Pictographs were painted on buffalo robes, rock faces, and site specific landmarks of importance to First Nations people. I understand these pictographs as a means of storytelling, self-portrait, and biographical art. These are the first artworks of North America, yet in my academic institutional art education, this traditional art form was never perceived as legitimate art. If it was even mentioned at all, it was categorized as primitive. Something I take issue with and feel I address in this photo series I have created.

In my research of traditional pictograph art, I investigated sites, literature, and cultural objects. I also came across the loss of these site specific landmarks and pictographs due to vandalism of our historical sites. The damage and lack of respect for our art history astounds me. I think of this desecration and deliberate destruction as acts of colonization. We lose our art history sites because they are defaced by graffiti. Pictographs are now being encased in fenced enclosures in the hopes of being protected, at AISINAI’PI-Writing-on-stone.

I have decided to create this artwork as answer to this, I have reproduced traditional pictographs and created ‘Contemporary Pictographs’ using the medium of graffiti art - spray paint and stencils. I have intentionally appropriated conventional graffiti tagging methods. I have found graffiti sites throughout the Territory of Siksikaitsitapi and placed my pictographs over them an act of counting coup. I have brought back my traditional art in a contemporary context in this ongoing series I started in 2010.

This photo series of ‘Contemporary Pictographs’ is a renewal of traditional Káínai Secwépemc art form - Pictographs. I reveal and challenge popular assumptions about traditional First Nations Art by bringing it into a contemporary context. I renewed traditional pictograph images and painted them in contemporary medium. The renewal process is explained as what happened before will happen again. The past, the present and future are all simultaneously connected. These pictographs, this art, this is the past. How far back does it go, and I am a part of it. That realization was profound! These pictographs are part of our history, practiced since time immemorial and passed from generation to generation. These ‘Contemporary Pictographs’ come from a contemporary First Nations artist, inspired by the history of First Nations traditional art, and safeguarded for future generations.

Sweet Grass & Sage Dolls

Harvested and created in 2017 I present the importance that these plant lives provide healing and sacred properties. They are a series of four installation sculptures; they are at the center of the Kainai belief system and are considered precious and treated with respect. Also, the idea of the “hand-made,” is evident in this piece and they are created from sweetgrass, sage, cotton fabric, and thread. I wanted to investigate the traditional art practices of Niitsitapi doll making with a contemporary twist. These pieces have never been displayed or exhibited. But are available to be showcased and displayed. Each individual measures approximately 2 feet in length and 1 foot in width.

Check out Marjie on Instagram!

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