On Monday I had the pleasure of meeting Mohawk artist Natasha Smoke Santiago. She came to my studio as a guest of the MRC du Haut St. Laurent, which is the regional governing body in my area of southwestern Quebec. The visit was arranged by Luc de Tremmerie, who is the Coordinator of Cultural Development for this region. Natasha and Huntingdon artist John Ryan (shown below) are collaborating in the joint creation of murals in the MRC du Haut St. Laurent and in Akwesasne, the Mohawk Nation territory – which straddles Quebec, Ontario, and New York state – where Natasha Smoke Santiago lives and works.
Natasha Smoke Santiago and John Ryan
Natasha is a potter, painter, and mixed media artist. The first thing I noticed about her work is her love of the female form, especially evident in her sculptures of heavily pregnant bellies. I love the rich brown colour of this one.
Burnt Pot by Natasha Smoke Santiago
Natasha describes her work as ” …heavily influenced by her Haudenosaunee heritage, history and teachings. She also draws upon the experiences of her life as inspiration for her works. Much of her work tells a tale, or has a story behind it…”.
Mother Fracker by Natasha Smoke Santiago
We talked shop for a while, comparing methods and materials as artists are wont to do whenever they get together. Our visit was also filmed by a videographer as part of a documentary. I hope to have more information about that soon.
Natasha and I also discovered in the course of our conversation that we have a mutual fascination with corvids, i.e. crows and ravens. (Go figure!) I especially like this painting by Natasha of a crow with a stolen kernel of corn in its beak. Typical crow!
Blue Corn Crow by Natasha Smoke Santiago
If you would like to see more of Natasha’s wonderful work, I encourage you to visit her website The Storytellers House.