Lindsay Delaronde tells about staying true to her chosen path as an Indigenous Artist while navigating modern notions of artistry. She generously shares insights & cultural perspectives for creatives who are defining their own unique journey.
My name is Lindsay Katsitsakatste Delaronde, I am a Kanienke’haka woman from Kahnawake. For the past 13 years, I have been a grateful, active and contributing guest on Lekwungen territory, Victoria, BC. I hold a Master’s degree in Fine Arts and a Master of Arts in the Indigenous Communities Counseling Psychology Program from the University of Victoria. I am currently enrolled in a PhD in Applied Theatre at UVIC. My areas of research are Contemporary and Traditional First Nations visual art, Indigenous performance practices, expressive arts therapy examining decolonial methodologies in art. My artistic practice focuses on Indigenous theatre, land-based/site-specific performance art, collaborative practice, cultural resurgence and social/political activism through the arts. My artistic media include land-based photography, performance/ theatre, movement/dance and visual studio arts. I held the position as the first Indigenous Artist in Residence for the City of Victoria 2017-2019. Co-facilitator for the collaboration project Achord. Visionary/Facilitator for both Indigenous Symposiums, Performance as Medicine, Making as Medicine. Visionary/Producer/Co-facilitator/ Community engagement for both Indigenous showcases Pendulum & Supernova, at the Belfry Theatre, Founder & Artistic Director for the Visible Bodies Collective. Dance residency recipient at Dance Victoria. Director for the film Mother: embodying Mother Earth teachings through land-based performance, Co-founder and Artistic Director for the Culture Den Society.
Transcript Resilient Creatives S1EP1
0:00:00.1 Speaker 1: This program was produced with the support of Storyhive, creativity connected by TELUS. For more information, please visit storyhive.com.
0:00:14.9 LD: What do you want your audience to hear?
0:00:16.7 Chantal Solomon: The intention for me is to create a container that allows people to share their stories on the creative path, the mystery and all the uncovering that happens with that. Maybe they'll inspire people or maybe they'll just help them see from their perspective, I would say in a nutshell. [chuckle]
Welcome to resilient creatives, a podcast that explores the role of creativity in our society. My name is Chantal Solomon, I'm a mixed-race artist and community herbalist. Through my practice, I explore re-mediating the connection between people and the natural world. This season I'm talking with artists about their creative practice and the hurdles and triumphs along their journey.
0:01:00.3 Lindsay Delaronde: [0:01:01.5] ____ My English name is Lindsay Delaronde, and I am ____ from Kahnawake, which is located in the province of Quebec, and I've been residing, living, working, raising my family and being an artist on the Lekwungen Territory for the last 14 years.
0:01:24.2 CS: Can you tell me about your art practice and how you identify as an artist?
0:01:29.4 LD: When I say artistry, for me I mean discipline and a rigour, and to learn how to be a receptor, to be able to transform and to become malleable in space to access the information that we don't see in the physical world. And really removing that Western colonial framework of what art is and what it means. Being human is so much of being an artist. The way that we do our hair, the way that we dress, the way that we walk, it's all these ingrained ways of life and living.
0:02:09.3 CS: It's refreshing to hear your perspective. Depending on how we were raised, Western culture may dominate the way that we move through the world, in ways that we don't even recognize, and I feel that that can influence our creations. I know for me, there's often been a tension between traditional teachings and the way that art is presented in modern times. How does your cultural background influence your art practice?
0:02:39.3 LD: In the Kanienkehaka culture, my sister was telling me that our sacred number is actually three because you have the strong binary, the dichotomy, the opposition, and the third is the divinity, as a sacred, as a spiritual, and it breaks the dichotomies so I think, of life, while embracing a third entity or realm, that I think creates multi-dimensional ways of looking and seeing things, so we are all in a creative place every day if we accept it or not, if we pick it up or not, if we nurture it or not, if it goes stagnant and it dies, these are all of these decisions and choices that we have in our lives to move towards creativity because that's natural law. Natural law and the law of the universe just wants more life, it wants to see life in billions of different perspectives, and being an artist allows me to play, discover, rediscover, claim, reject, challenge reality. Reality as I perceive it, reality as it's presented. Through media, social media, news, newspaper, all of these ways that we're conditioned as human beings to say, "This is the truth, this is real."
0:04:05.3 LD: And so as an artist, I think I separate myself from those pressures and those conditions and start to say "What part of that truth is true for me?" 'Cause anything that we see and perceive outside of ourselves, and we bring it into consciousness and we bring it into form, can be activated at any point of time, and so this way of being is really something that I've integrated in everything. It doesn't need to be understood by others. I think that's one big key factor in really claiming your artistry is you don't need to and I don't need to justify that.
0:04:45.3 CS: How did you develop your practice? Was it something that you cultivated on your own or did you have formal training?
0:04:54.1 LD: I started art school when I was 16 years old, so very institutional in my training, in my thinking. Started off at Dawson College in Montreal in the Fine Arts department. I did two years there, and then moved to Vancouver where I did a Bachelor's degree of Fine Arts, and then eventually moved to here, Victoria, where I did a Master's in Fine Arts. So to me, that was my path that I chose because I've watched my uncle very much immersed in the art world as a curator, as an Indigenous curator. And there was always this sophistication, a prestige almost... There's a falsity in that... So in the beginning stages of my life really recognizing that being indigenous, we're imposed about what success means for us, and part of that I bought into, strongly. Go to school, get my degrees. Looking at my journey now, I'm just starting to recognize that that's something that I've always rejected as well. I've never really been heavily immersed in the institution or the institutional way of thinking.
0:06:01.8 LD: So artistry in a way that is very personal, very sacred, the validation comes within, and then the external relationship to artistry, the mentorship and the relationships, the collaborations, the sharing. Each and every person that I've worked with has their own school of thought, and that's so interesting when you start to collaborate and work with other artists, and so that's sort of my background of how I see where I've been trained and where I've been educated and where I've also had to just reject all of that and go straight inward.
0:06:37.0 CS: You're reminding me of, I came up with a little saying for myself when I've met my different boundaries, and I'll just say to myself, "I'm an artist, I can do what I want." That I've had to challenge my own thoughts and way of being and what I thought I was supposed to be in the world or what an artist was supposed to be. For me, when I started to actually feel comfortable calling myself an artist, it gave me such a freedom I didn't realize that was waiting for me, it was like I had touched on it, but I had viewed art in a certain way of what you see in galleries, or this idea that seemed far away from where I was, and I wasn't in those certain social circles or these different things, so I couldn't be an artist, but when I started to be able to call myself that and own that, and what that meant for me personally. Yeah, I just felt so much more comfortable in myself.
0:07:27.9 LD: Being an artist has saved my life. Growing up, it was challenging, it was really challenging, and so a lot of us experienced difficult childhoods. I always had the land to revert back to for this place of safety and comfort and just be home and cut and tape and pin and mark, and all of these actions, all of these gestural actions, I was very drawn to as a young child. Anything to make with the hands and within that way of life and living art materials became a security blanket for me as well. Any time we would go anywhere, even if I didn't use it, and still to this day, I have to bring either a book, a sketchbook, a box of beads, something that I can go to. It is my go-to. It is something that I think has always been there for me. It's never rejected me, it's always accepted me, and it's always held my pain without judgment.