My Process is…
In The Gallery…
Visual Artist & Maker
Michi & Friends™ collection
I am a proud and unabashed 80s kid and toy lines like Masters of the Universe, Transformers, andTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were the centre of my world. I idolized She-Ra the Princess of Power, who would high-kick her enemies all while wielding that awesome sword of hers. I saw myself more in her than anything else around me, certainly not in someone like Barbie, who was tall, thin, blonde, blue-eyed and privileged – nothing like me! Sure, maybe I didn’t look too much like She-Raeither, but she was like me – she wanted to go and do things, she was a leader with agency and power. I know that I couldn’t verbalize this concept as a child, but now, as an educated adult who faces discrimination in wider culture, I know that representation matters.
Hopefully we all find something in our formative years that is a good representation for us – I had She-Ra, but what happens when you don’t find that? Do you fall back on representations of others as a substitute, or even less ideal, do you resort to other people’s (often false) representations of you? Indigenous children have always had to deal with this problem. There is such a limited array of play systems for us, and when you do find them, oh my word… it’s not good most of the time! Not only does this impact perceptions of ourselves in that we think we are not ‘normal’ or welcome, but the most damage comes when everyone else around us doesn’t see us in the picture either. If a child does not have a representations of diversity instilled in them from the beginning, it sets them up to always see us as ‘other’. This doesn’t help any of us in the long run, and this is what we are talking about when it comes to Truth and Reconciliation.
Thankfully, toy makers are starting to come around, mostly due to consumer pressure, but we now have lines like the Fresh Dolls and the Barbie Fashionistas, with its huge array of different skin tones, face sculpts, and body types. This is a great start but I think we can go further, do more, and create more specific, engaged dialogues that really tackle inclusivity and representation.
Jesica Campbell is a Métis Artist and Maker living and working in Central Alberta. Her work focuses on representing the truth of her indigenous self. Sometimes that truth may be represented in an abstract painting, an intervention in the public space, or even a cheeky piece of embroidery or crafting.
Proud Member of the Manitoba Métis Federation