This week’s Artwork Wednesday features the work of Jacqueline Olson’s Gwich’in Dress and Moccasins, currently on display until August 23rd in the Locate: Selections from the Yukon Arts Centre Permanent Collection exhibition. Olson’s heritage is of both Gwich’in and Danish descent and the artist was born and raised in Dawson City, YT. Olson studied Arts Administration at Camosun College (Victoria, BC) and later pursued a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the Alberta College of Art and Design (Calgary, Alberta).  The artist returned to Dawson in 1992 and remains very involved in the Yukon arts community.

Gwich’in Dress was created in response to Bill C31. The bill sought, in part, to revise specific elements of the Indian Act governing Indian Status, which were considered discriminatory. Consequently, when the bill came into effect, Olson became a status Indian. This prompted the artist to explore her cultural background as a newly designed First Nations person and, more specifically, the Gwich’in heritage which she shares with her grandparents. The artist associates the fibre of paper to tanning skin, the process, the texture, and the overall look are the parallels she seeks.  Olson views paper as a medium with great duality with its ability to be both fragile and durable. Gwich'in Dress and Moccasins is constructed out of handmade paper and is adorned with decorative porcupine quills.

Olson identifies with the notion of process, whether traditional or contemporary, as the most important part of creating. The traditional craft in tanning a hide or making paper from fibres is a tedious process which provides the artist with a meditative period to contemplate her future works. Olson strives to project a uniqueness that is individual and expresses the balance of cultures she is a part of.  

To view more works by the artist, here