signs of agency and signs of presence

X-marks

 
Sometimes [the removal of people groups] means adopting new ways of living, thinking, and being that do not necessarily emanate from a traditional cultural source (or, for that matter, ‘time immemorial’), and sometimes it means appropriating the new and changing it to feel more like the old. Sometimes change can make the old feel new again. Sometimes a removal can become a migration.
— Scott Richard Lyons, X-Marks: Native Signatures of Assent

I created this work while in residence at the Banff Centre in Alberta, Canada as part of “In Kind” Negotations, an indigenous thematic residency. It is a response to Scott Richard Lyons' X-marks: Native Signatures of Assent.

X-marks were made in lieu of signatures. Mark-making connects the hand to agency, a sign of presence. I made X-marks in Banff in the winter of 2014 while reading Scott Richard Lyons’ text of the same name—a text that speaks to the x-marks made on treaties between indigenous people and North American governments.

On my hikes through the snow, past and future journeys were constantly confronting me. The past momentarily preserved in the snow, my present marked by my Sorel boots, and the meandering possibilities in front of me felt appropriate to my questions of place.

Banff was never meant to be settled—for the Stoney Nakoda, the mountain was for spiritual retreat, while the valley was only for passing through. This was not a place for me to leave a permanent mark. How do I carry this place home with me? The painting process captures my own presence in these shifting, melting moments in the snow. They become my own experiences, my own marks—without taking something that is not mine.