Ickwecic Matcike Ickinikcic | Image source Meky Ottawa
The 29th Annual Montréal First People’s Festival presents Atikamekw artist, Meky Ottawa’s exhibit: Nehirowisidigital until September 29 at La Guilde, 1356 Sherbrooke St W. Ottawa is a self taught artist who specializes in video, installation and illustration. Her work is informed by an Indigenous feminist perspective while also tackling modern political issues. Most notably her work has been showcased in Rezolution Pictures’ The Indians Who Rocked The World and the Montréal Museum of Fine Art. The Nehirowisidigital exhibition premieres new exciting works. Meky spoke with MUSKRAT Magazine about Nehirowisidigital and her journey as a self taught artist.
MM: You are a self taught artist, what is that journey like and where did you get your inspiration from to go down that journey?
MO: My mom always knew I would be in the media and arts when I was very young. She was very encouraging to me. She would always buy me manuals for creations. She always had a big box of tools to create paintings. I always remember having these things in our house. My mother also studied videography. We had several cameras in our house. I started from when I was 9 and used to always play with these cameras. My cousins and I would do parodies of music videos, make TV shows or remake films. I was lucky to always have the chance to be creative from the beginning of my life.
MM: Who inspires you?
MO: My mother. She was also very creative. My sister once told me, “You know what Meky? We are a recipe. We are one cup of dad, one cup of mom, two tablespoons of our grandfather.” Then it just hit me that we are an extension of our grandparents and mothers. My grandmother on my father’s side was a big inspiration for me too. We have strong women in our family and strong men too.
MM: You have talked about doing collaborations previously, what is most that you like collaborating about?
MO: I think I like to collaborate with people that are new to the arts scene or want to start. I always like to collaborate. My advice to them is usually just go for it, trust your instincts don’t be afraid to be you. Honour your creation, and respect your work.
MM: What does the quote: “The creative process allows me to discover myself, to know myself better” mean to you?
MO: There are times when it’s hard for me to start a project or to take on a new subject. Every new project is somewhere in my imagination where I’ve never been before. Every creative process that I take on is a new learning process every time.
MM: Can you tell me a little more about your exhibit?
MO: Over the past five years I’ve worked on both modern and traditional mixed together and have just now decided to show the world.
BIO: Meky Ottawa is an Atikamekw from Manawan. As a multidisciplinary artist based in Tio’tia:ke Montréal, she works with video, illustration and installation. She is self-taught, and likes to sing karaoke in her spare time. She has worked as an illustrator for Meshmag, Spirale, and for many issues of WIOT magazine (Working It Out Together). She has also contributed to productions by Rezolution Pictures, namely the film Rumble the Indians Who Rocked the World (2017). Her work has been shown in Mashteuiatsh, Nantes, and in Montréal, including the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts as part of the group exhibition Elles Autochtones (2017). Her animated films have been presented in Canada (in Toronto, in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, and most recently as part of a screening event devoted to the work of Indigenous women artists, curated by Catherine Boivin at Centre CLARK) and internationally (in New York; Santiago, Chile; Paris and Marseille, France; Sao Paulo, Brazil and Guadalajara, Mexico).