Kayla Bellerose a.k.a. bb iskwew
I am a sakâw nehiyaw iskwew (Bush Cree woman)/mixed artist originally from Slave Lake in Treaty 8 territory, with family ties to Bigstone Cree Nation and Sawridge Cree Nation. My artist name bb iskwew symbolizes my traditional Cree name, Baby woman, gifted by nokum (my grandma) when I was born. My creative expression is how I connect with the matriarchal roots in my bloodline as my art helps me connect to my family’s traditional beadwork designs and sakâw nehiyaw stories. To me making art today is a privilege as the generations before me were unable to showcase their work publicly due to strict and racist Canadian government policies and residential school syndrome. Art has provided a tool for me to reconnect with my culture and has helped me heal from generational trauma so that I can pass on teachings of generational healing moving forward. I am passionate about sharing creative space with younger generations to share these tools for creativity and healthy coping skills. Along with creating a portfolio throughout the years, I have prioritized my time in giving back to the community through facilitating art workshops with Indigenous youth throughout Alberta. I am a multi-disciplinary artist creating mixed media work in photography, illustration, muralism, and beadwork. My vision is to continue creating a safe space for kin by applying for public art opportunities and showing Indigenous women, femme, and two-spirit relatives that we belong in urban centers and deserve authentic representation in public art. My intention as a mural artist is to create visual medicine by staying rooted in stories, teachings, and knowledge shared with me by elders, family members, community, and guidance from my ancestors. In my artwork, I ensure to do relationship building with people from the area I am painting in for inspiration to create a piece that honours the land and the people from that land. I would be excited to reach out to relatives from the Maskwacis community for ideas and collaboration for this mural as many travel to Red Deer for school, work, and shopping needs. There are many stories of the area that can be brought to life through a public mural. My process as a mural artist is to visit and consult with local elders for ideas and to do things in a good way, as my artwork follows protocols because to me creating artwork is a ceremony.