Artist Statement

Art for me has always been a vehicle for social criticism and focusing on issues of our time. How do we talk about the history that divides and binds us together? As a white woman and settler-descendent my history of privilege is consciously and subconsciously woven into how I show up in the world and as an artist. My ancestors were touched by war and the ensuing grief had tremendous generational impact on my family. As a new mother to a little baby I have been consumed with what it means to love and protect the most vulnerable in society. What it means within the confines of home and what it means on a global scale and my work is an attempt to make visible that which colonial efforts have attempted to erase from history.

I’ve been a collagist for 18 years and, as a dual citizen of both the US and Canada, I often work within the Western genre to attempt to reflect back on what is happening here on Turtle Island. The traditional Western genre feels like the same story over and over again that parallels the living history we are bearing witness to. Stories that perpetuate the idea of regeneration thru violence and that masculinity has to be re-enforced by constant violence. Stories with heavy handed notions of freedom and unfreedom. Stories of liberal individualism which assume that the conditions of the Western frontier make everyone equal. Though I have most definitely been seduced by these stories my work is an attempt to radically counter these narratives. I do believe that in accountability lies a possibility for positive change.

– Vanessa Compton