Jewellery & Metalswww.briellereeves.com
My work is an exploration and declaration of my identity as a mixed Indigenous and white woman. Due to my Indigenous parent growing up without a connection to their culture, I also had very little knowledge of culture and felt estranged from it. As I have been seeking deeper understanding and connection, I recently have incorporated Indigenous beadworking techniques into my practice.
Through my beaded pieces I explore the liminality of being a biracial individual and seeking to find a balance between expressions of identity. I take the common, traditional approaches to Indigenous beading and imbue my contemporary understanding of race and identity into my work. Beaded pieces are often illustrational due to the maneuverability of the small, multi-coloured beads and I use this to my advantage in my work. I use recognizable imagery to interest the viewer, which then invites them to learn more about the pieces and by extension my own story.
Apple Cross Section
This is a hollow-form beaded ring made in the image of an apple. "Apple" is a term often used to describe an indigenous person who is "red on the outside, white on the inside". Ever since I've learned this term, I've felt that it described me quite well and so this ring is a manifestation of that feeling. I combined my knowledge of metalworking and of beading to create this ring by individually beading each face of the ring before stitching them together.
An "earworm" refers to a word or phrase that gets stuck in an individual's head and is incredibly difficult to ignore. This pair of beaded earrings have the words "interloper" and "outsitder" on them, and are physical representations of my personal anxieties that I often experience while in Indigenous spaces. I often try to reach out and find community and connection, yet over time I usually begin to experience feelings of disconnect due to my own anxieties which eventually leads to distancing myself once again.
Don't Cake It On
This piece is a fully surfaced makeup compact with a very lightly coloured powder inside. This piece is meant to show that there is no need to try and fit a certain marker or sterotype to be considered "enough", that there is no need to try to cover up or put on a new face in order to feel comfortable and accepted. This is a piece of healing, of putting into alignment thinking patterns that harm the individual.
Keepsake for the Forgotten
This necklace was made after the aesthetics of the early or romantic period of the Victorian Era. Cameos and miniature portaits were common in jewellery, especially in necklaces and brooches. The image coloured on the copper oval was referenced from Edward H Boos' "Flathead Woman" taken between 1905-1907. The title of the photograph gives no information about the woman depicted, leaving all but her image to be lost in time. This necklace honours this Indigenous woman whose history has been forgotten.
Growing Past the Defense
This piece considers the concept of a defense mechanism. As I grew up in predominantly white spaces I would sometimes unconsciously present myself as more white than Indigenous. I would smile and wave off any ignorance or racism, putting on a mask of compliance to not risk further harm to myself and becoming a more 'palatable' Indigenous person. The roots beaded over top of the white lace show my continued efforts to work past the need for such defenses.