OCADU Graduate - BFA (2015)
Sierra Barber (she/her) is an Upper Mohawk / mixed-European artist from Port Dover, ON, registered at the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory. She graduated from OCAD University with a BFA in 2015, majoring in Sculpture and Installation with a minor in the Indigenous Visual Culture Program. Sierra is currently pursuing an MFA in the Painting and Drawing program at Concordia University in Tiohtiá:ke/ Montreal, QC. Her work has been shown in the annual Indigenous Art juried exhibition at the Woodland Cultural Centre and The Artist Project - Untapped - Contemporary Art Fair and internationally in Aotearoa (New Zealand) at HOEA! Gallery. Sierra received the Elspeth McConnell Fine Art Award through Concordia University with an internship at daphne, an Indigenous-run Arts Centre. Her work is represented at the Art Gallery of Hamilton’s Art Sales & Services.
My paintings reflect and balance the layered experiences of my identity. Using Haudenosaunee imagery, my work creates a space for me to explore my relationship to stories, both known and unknown. It reclaims and connects me to the stories that are a part of me and that I belong to. I use a combination of oil painting and beadwork in my paintings to create a language that interprets my inner world.
Beading connects me to my culture. I use beadwork and oil painting together in a piece to create a dynamic image that lives within two material languages. The glass beads intersect with the colonial medium of oil painting, continuously translating the image and creating a dialogue between the materials. I use both vintage and new glass seed beads to create my beadwork. The vintage beads bring their own stories to the painting that include surpassing bans of cultural expression. Beads of the past and present are brought together in the shape of a beaded flower and become part of my story.
The use of patterns within my work references ideas of repetition, cycles and continuity. It reflects a state of being in motion, yet being connected at the same time. The layered imagery suggests that there are many stories existing within a piece at once. Strawberries and strawberry flowers appear in my work because they are a symbol of life, I also see them as a symbol of resilience. Beading is also resilient. The metaphors between the symbolism and the materials that I use in my work add my voice to a dynamic tradition.
I use highly saturated colours to express the idea that life is happening within the work and situate my images within the sky, to convey feelings of vastness. My work explores themes of transformation, connection, memory and continuity.