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Cree artist Mackenzie Brown can’t remember a time when she wasn’t making art. For her, any surface she could find became a canvas.
“We had a little area underneath the stairs that was tucked away, and my mom one day found me underneath there,” said Brown. “And I had painted this whole mural with my fingers and acrylic paint all over the staircase.”
Painting the walls was just the beginning. Brown now uses her art as a way to interact and connect with people, while sharing traditional Indigenous mediums in innovative ways.
According to the City of Calgary, less than three per cent of the city’s public art collection contains pieces by Indigenous artists. This means that of the roughly 1,300 pieces in the collection, only about 39 were produced by Indigenous creators.
But both the city and artists like Brown are hoping to change this narrative, while creating and curating pieces highlighting Indigenous experiences and their contemporary orientations.
“Inherently innovative, Indigenous” art
Growing up in the small town of Edson, Alta., Brown says having artists for parents helped to nurture her creativity and love of art.