JUDY CHARTRAND

OUR AMERICA/WHOSE AMERICA?

2022 | Group Exhibition at Ferrin Contemporary | North Adams, MA

Our America/Whose America? Is a “call and response” exhibition between contemporary artists and historic ceramic objects.

View the exhibition page HERE  & View the historic collection HERE

On the Featured Works in the Exhibition:

Much of my work confronts issues of colonization, assimilation and identity politics.

I began my journey looking directly at my family’s history beginning with my Mom sharing her Residential School experiences at the Pine Creek Indian Residential school from 1926 to 1938 as well as her life after her release and her marriage to a batterer and subsequent common-law relationships that all culminated in her having to make moves so that she could survive in an atmosphere that was racially geared against her.

OF THE DEVILL



PEACE TALK FUCKERY (1763)



THE GREAT SPIRIT SMILES!!



THE TOURIST TOSS



?IS A ZERO



b. 1959, Kamloops, BC, CAN
lives and works in Vancouver, CAN

Judy Chartrand is a Manitoba Cree artist, born in Kamloops, BC and was raised in a marginalized neighborhood located in Vancouver’s skid row area back in the early 1960s. She is an artist whose work frequently confronts issues of postcolonialism, socio-economic inequity and Indigenous knowledge expressed through the mediums of ceramics, found objects, archival photos and traditional techniques that include beading, tufting and porcupine quilling on hide.

Judy Chartrand, “Peace Talk Fuckery (1763)”, installation view, 2022, low fire paper clay, underglaze, glaze, 11.5 x 11.5 x 2”, image credit: John Polak

ON HER WORK IN OUR AMERICA/WHOSE AMERICA?

Much of my work confronts issues of colonization, assimilation and identity politics.

I began my journey looking directly at my family’s history beginning with my Mom sharing her Residential School experiences at the Pine Creek Indian Residential school from 1926 to 1938 as well as her life after her release and her marriage to a batterer and subsequent common-law relationships that all culminated in her having to make moves so that she could survive in an atmosphere that was racially geared against her.

I wondered why her/my story was the same as so many other First Nations families so I began to look outward. This led me to look at racism via the KKK, Neo-nazi, Skin-head, White Nationalists groups.  I still wasn’t finding answers because our experiences have not been with these groups, but with your every-day white folk. This led me to looking at the concept of whiteness, white racism, white privilege and white power. I learned that our poverty, disfunction and displacement had nothing to do with us being less than, but more about us being bamboozled and criminalized so that it was a substantial guarantee that we suffered greatly in all ways imaginable. 

I was drawn to Coming of the White Man plate where the center bears an image of two native American figures as statues surrounded by images of City Hall, Post office, Mt. Hood and the Portland Hotel. It reminded me of images I’ve seen where the three Spanish ships: the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria are off in the distance and on the shore are indigenous males pointing in the direction of the ships. The story that unfolds differs greatly depending on whose version you side with as in the colonizer or the colonized. 

I have chosen to respond with using another image where after peace talks with a coalition of Delaware, Seneca-Cayuga and Shawnee tribes, Colonel Bouquet authorized the spread of smallpox. Each one of them were aware of the plan to break this agreement and use two infected blankets and a hanky to deal with the tribes in a more permanent way.

My response piece has in turn, infected their image with today’s definition of an obnoxious, angry, entitled and often racist white person who uses their privilege to get their way or police other people’s behaviors…henceforth, smallpox Karens.