Iskwé - student project

"They tried to bury us. They didn't know we were seeds."

When I thought of doing Iskwé's portrait, there was no turning back. I only discovered her last year — I'm assuming most of you don't know of her so here is a synopsis of my research via CBC radio interviews, Facebook, Pinterest, Wikipedia etc. I'm adding links in case anyone wants to see her in action or learn more about the issues that she stands for.

She's a pop/electronic, singer-songwriter who grew up in Manitoba, Canada. She's First Nations (Cree and Dene) and of Irish descent. The first song I heard of hers was Nobody Knows which gave me goosebumps. She said it's about the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls crisis in Canada and dedicated it to "each of the women we've lost and to the people who love them." 

I have so much respect for her and her efforts to uplift her community. I find her to be admirably strong and powerful in her art and the way she presents herself. She's also just super cool. Check out these images ... how could I resist her crazy-awesome style and creative make-up?


So, the hard part for me was trying to make a likeness ... which is a little (a lot) outside of my wheelhouse. So, I thought carefully about what Andrea advised incorporating motifs and ideas from my research in the piece.

• Feathers, Big Eyelashes, Unique Make-up, Nose Ring, Long Earrings

• When she's really belting it out she shows both her upper and lower teeth

• I noticed that she often expresses herself by moving her arms symmetrically

• The flowers in her hair are crown-esque and reference the flowers on her arm tattoo

• I included a reference to the infamous Highway of Tears, in my home province, where sadly many First Nations women and girls have fallen victim

• Lyrics "I won't be afraid"

• Necklace with her name on it. That's cheating, isn't it?




Well, this might be my favourite project so far. I just had so much fun doing it and I learned a tonne. I feel like I really grew by participating in the class!

I love your work, Andrea. You are an amazing talent. Thank you so much for your class and your inspiration. I really valued hearing about and watching your process in action. And you shared so many tips and tricks for tweaking a traced file that will make my life so much easier! Thank you.


PS So this happened...

Iskwé reposted my portrait ... with a killer caption!! #heartswellingalso