Natalie King

Can you tell me a bit about the kind of work that you make?

I’m a queer interdisciplinary Anishinaabe artist, facilitator, and member of Timiskaming First Nation. My arts practice ranges from video, painting, sculpture, installation as well as community engagement, curation, and arts administration. 

My practice is about survivance and desire, countering damage-centered narratives that are tied to Indigenous communities and the conspicuous consumption of queer Indigenized trauma. I hope people leave with a sense of being seen with a sense of hope, and the ways in which future scan be built. It's really about resistance and denying commodification of trauma and violence. It's about transforming our relations and the things that we all, as agents of colonialism and oppression (willingly and unwillingly), partake in, intervening at the level of governmentality. I’m trying to get the viewer to entangle themselves in the project of colonialism, through a queer lens that is focused on joy and pleasure. 

I would like people to leave with a sense of a world-building, pleasure-centred resistance, and joy. I’m really interested in that transformative aspect - the work I do is engaging with issues of representation, social interaction and social systems, and material access. Using art as a connection with our culture, land, and each other is important, and being vulnerable or being willing to learn in public is challenging, especially in relation to investigating the effects colonization has had on my identity and being willing to share this. I make this work especially with my queer Indigenous kin in mind.

Are there themes/ideas do you return to regularly in your work? 

My current artistic practice often involves portrayals of queer femmes and queer Anishinaabeg futurities. My works are about embracing the ambiguity and multiplicities of identity within the Anishinaabe queer femme experiences from my perspective.

Indigenous futurity comes up a lot too, the celebration and rejoicing that recognizes the cultural continuity of Indigenous communities. I also am constantly recollecting collective conversations with ancestors, Anishinaabe creation story motifs, blending them with queer femme aesthetics to tell astory. Equipped with these dreams and knowledge, I reimagine these intersecting worlds where Anishinaabe ideas of queerness and collective consciousness collide.

What motivates you to make your work? Where do you draw inspiration from? 

I am often thinking about belonging, reverence, pride, relationality, and feelings of exuberance and freedom. Mostly, I am interested in making work that speaks to ideas or questions about how we can connect to creation and ourselves on our own terms. What does it mean to inhabit an identity that is intersectional? I like the idea of queering ideas of self-presentation and regalia, the ways in which we present ourselves and the communities we are from, celebrating joy. I am also inspired by the many people who came before me. I try to honour them in my work.

Conceptually, I’m often thinking about the ways in which we communicate our desires and dreams as queer people, as Anishinaabe people. Often, it feels like I’m trying to connect or speak to something within me, that I can speak to in my work—I feel called to do it to some degree, to connect with myself and others. I think I am trying to speak to some version of a future ancestor and maybe a version of a past self too.

"Most importantly, focusing on your goals but not being hard on yourself when set backs occur, because they almost always do."

What do you do when you’re not making art?

I am currently working with Xpace Cultural Centre as a Programming Coordinator and working independently as a professional artist. My role with Xpace, working collaboratively to contribute to the planning and execution of workshops, events, and exhibitions for Xpace Cultural Centre’s exhibition spaces. The way I see my role as Programming Coordinator is a supportive one, helping foster emerging artists’ early careers and helping them show their work in a professional setting. The things that I enjoy most in my work are supporting artists and designers, building community, creating equitable exchange, and continually making new connections, working towards building sustainable exchanges within the arts community. 

Down time is also super important to me. Working as an artist and full-time arts administrator, I don’t get a lot of free time to myself; I am working on that! Constantly! I love to be out on the land, connecting with nature, new experiences, spending valuable time with loved ones, tending to my plants and garden, and I love spending time with my partner Chandler.

What are your goals/hopes for your practice in future? 

I want to continue to expand my existing skills and continue to support emerging artists and community. I will also continue to create my own worlds. I would love to continue to engage and create new and exciting opportunities for emerging artists as well as continuing my professional arts practiceExpanding worlds and ways of belonging.

Can you share any words of advice for artists that might be just starting out? 

Take care of you, most importantly. Your health and mental well-being are the most important thing - above all else. In terms of practice, the key for me is patience and empathy with yourself; most importantly, focusing on your goals but not being hard on yourself when set backs occur, because they almost always do. Always find the joy, whether that exists within your art practice or not, and follow it.

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