Catherine Blackburn

Photo by Sweetmoon Photography

Family, tradition and culture are sewn into every bead of Catherine Blackburn's work. The Saskatchewan bead artist, painter and jeweller feels connected to her Dene culture each time she creates a piece.

"I feel a deep sense of pride that I can carry on the tradition of beading," she said. "It is medicine for my mind and soul and through its process time slows and makes me feel more grounded."

Blackburn was born in Patuanak, Saskatchewan and is a member of the English River First Nation. She grew up surrounded by creative people and remembers making things from an early age.

Blackburn completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of Saskatchewan, graduating with honours in 2007. Her first attempt at applied beadwork occurred the following summer while working as a youth art coordinator on the Morley reserve in Alberta. A new friend encouraged her to try the art form.

"She was such a patient mentor and it was then that I created my first pair of beaded earrings. They had a rhinestone centre with beautiful shimmering purple, white and green cut beads that sparkled at every angle. I remember how proud I was to have made her proud," Blackburn said.

Since then, Blackburn has been creating intricate, colourful and innovative pieces using beads, from works on canvas to pieces people can wear. Her style combines traditional techniques with contemporary influences.

Her jewellery and her unique beaded teabags can be found for sale in Remai Modern's Art & Design Store.

She said she feels immediate excitement and pride each time she sees someone wearing one of her pieces.

"An immediate bond is created that is so fulfilling and enriching," she said.

Blackburn has exhibited work across Canada and was the recipient of an Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation grant and a Governor General History Award for her painting Grandma.

She recently debuted a new body of work called New Age Warriors at Indigenous Fashion Week in Toronto. It will also be featured in an exhibition at the Mann Art Gallery in Prince Albert in September.

Remai Modern is proud to feature Catherine Blackburn's work in the Art & Design Store.

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