Ahead of Santa Fe Indian Market, we’re featuring the designers whose lines will be shown at the SWAIA Haute Couture Fashion Show. Here we spotlight Catherine Blackburn Art and Jewelry.
Who: Catherine Blackburn (Dene/English River First Nation)
What: Catherine Blackburn Art and Jewelry
The line: “My designs are for everyone!” says Catherine Blackburn. “I am predominantly a visual artist and jeweler, this being my first time creating nonconventional garment-wear.”
The story: Born in Patuanak, Saskatchewan, Canada, of Dene and European ancestry, Catherine Blackburn is a member of the English River First Nation. She is a multidisciplinary artist and jeweler whose common themes address Canada’s colonial past that are often prompted by personal narratives. Merging contemporary concepts with elements of traditional Dene culture, her art creates a dialogue between traditional art forms and new interpretations of them. Her work has been shown in notable national group exhibitions and on fashion runways, including Toronto Indigenous Fashion Week, Niigaanikwewag (second iteration), and Art Encounters on the Edge, Bonavista Biennale, Newfoundland. She has received numerous grants and awards for her work, including the Saskatchewan RBC Emerging Artist Award and the Melissa Levin Emerging Artist Award. Most recently her work was published in Vogue and she was longlisted for the National Gallery of Canada’s 2019 Sobey Art Award.
The designer says: “As a designer, I love the challenge of utilizing different textures and colors as I aim to create jewelry that is fun, edgy, and contemporary, with an ode to the traditional.”
Click on the image above to view the slideshow.
The new collection: A celebration of garment making and adorning, the collection is a fusion of traditional design and contemporary futuristic flare. “I am honoring diversity and innovation of Indigenous design as well as celebrating and recognizing the functionality of utilitarian Indigenous couture. I am showcasing nonconventional garment design made from plastic beads, which I refer to as armor. This armor includes everything from chest protector-like bodices to language medallions and even an infant carrier, inspired by the traditional cradleboard.”
Showing at the SWAIA Haute Couture Fashion Show: “It is an honor to be among such talent and strength that are giving voice to critical change and representation in the fashion industry. Showcasing the individuality of our histories, voices, stories, and realities is hugely important in breaking harmful narratives. Through fashion, a space is created for Indigenous voice that both challenges and explores complex questions regarding beauty, cultural appropriation, gender, and the body. Within this space, we reclaim and celebrate our identities.”
For more information on the SWAIA Haute Couture Fashion Show, visit the event’s website.
Photography: (headshot) Sweetmoon Photography. All images courtesy Catherine Blackburn