Over the past ten years I have been exploring my passion for tattooing as art and craft, using traditional hand tattooing methods and electric tattoo machines. I have traveled both virtually and physically to museum collections and databases to find inspiration from my ancestral visual and material culture, I have ventured out onto the land and discovered the messages left on the rocks by my ancestors and read as much written material as I can find. This past year I have been transforming the knowledge I have gained into a contemporary Nlaka’pamux Blackwork tattoo language that turns the human body into a canvas for the reimagining of Nlaka’pamux tattooing.
Nlaka'pamux Black Work: A Transformational Journey
I am translating Nlaka’pamux visual language into the creation of Nlaka’pamux tattoo bodysuits, full sleeves, back and chest pieces. This is an exploration of how our visual language can be stretched to fit the curvature and movement of the human form. The result is an innovation through the creation of a contemporary interpretation of Nlaka’pamux tattooing that mixes aesthetics from historic Japanese and contemporary tribal and blackwork tattooing genres. As I explored in my January 7th, 2020 blog post entitled The Creation and Presentation of Nlaka’pamux Blackwork, the creation of Nlaka’pamux Blackwork as an innovation and evolution of Nlaka’pamux tattooing is an answer to the question; how do I share this ancestral, cultural embodied artistic practice with those who are not Nlaka’pamux?
These tattoos are for Nlaka’pamux and non-Nlaka’pamux, Indigenous and non-Indigenous collaborators. I say collaborators because taking on a big tattoo takes commitment and is a journey we go on together. Your life story, wishes and dreams for the future will be taken into account in the creation of your Nlaka’pamux Blackwork tattoo. Designs and motifs will be used in the transformation of your body into a work of Nlaka’pamux art, as a prayer, a declaration, and an embodiment of our ancestor’s resilience.
I am blessed to have the support of the Canada Council for the Arts and the IOTA Institute, which has allowed me the time to research and develop this project.
I acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts
I am now accepting clients as the next step in the evolution of Nlaka'pamux Blackwork. This work isn't just for Nlaka'pamux or Indigenous folks, I welcome collaborators/clients from anywhere and everywhere.
Collaborators for the Nlaka'pamux Blackwork are encouraged to fill out the consultation form located at the bottom of this page.
· The tattooing of bodysuits is a long, painful process that will require your full participation as artistic collaborator, which includes, commitment to appointments, aftercare of your tattoo and patience with the process.
· Full bodysuits cover larger sections of the body, the location and amount of coverage will be negotiated and you will only be required to be tattooed where you consent to be tattooed.
· Your comfort and personal safety will be considered at every point in the process of receiving your Nlaka’pamux Blackwork tattoo.
Who is eligible to apply?
· You must be 18 years of age or older
· Anyone can apply, Indigenous/non-indigenous etc.
What is the Process?
Nlaka'pamux Blackwork is different from other forms of tattooing and your tattoo is developed through me coming to understand who you are and what might be appropriate for you to wear according to my understanding in the development of your markings. I will carefully read your initial consultation form and then have a brief in person or virtual conversation to explore any questions and visit in order to find clarity in terms of the appropriate designs to be included in your tattoo. Once I have a clear vision I begin to develop your design and then once it is created you will have the ability to agree to receive it or not, at this point minimal redesigning is possible.