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February 9, 2024
Naomi Bourque carefully scrapes fish scales into a bucket on Selkirk College’s Victoria Street Campus as she thoughtfully transforms the slippery skin into hardy leather. Currently the college’s artist-in-residence, Bourque is in the middle of a project that will see her produce 10 magnificent ponchos that echo her culture and artistic abilities.
Inspired by her Indigenous heritage, Bourque’s work-in-progress is based on medicines from nature such as berries, arnica, birch, fireweed and lichen. Incorporating fur, fish, antler, dyed fabric, claws, ivory and delicate beadwork, the ponchos will be featured in the prestigious Indigenous Fashion Arts Festival that takes place in Toronto at the end of May.
“As much as possible, I want to make every ingredient that I am using so that it is as authentic as possible,” says Bourque. “I am making it my own as it relates to the message that I am sending out through what I am creating.”