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Skawennati: My Life as an Avatar


November 10, 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

Location: Online

An image created in a virtual environment with a sunflower on the left, a goose in the middle, and a purple-skinned woman with white hair on the right

The Center for Innovation, Research and Creativity in the Arts (CIRCA) presents Skawennati, who investigates history, the future, and change from her perspective as an urban Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) woman and as a cyberpunk avatar. Her early adoption of cyberspace as both a location and a medium for her practice has produced groundbreaking projects such as CyberPowWow and TimeTraveller™. She creates machinimas—movies made in virtual environments—as well as still images, textiles and sculpture.

Skawennati’s works have been presented in Europe, Oceania, China and across North America in biennials and solo exhibitions. Her work is included in the collections of the National Gallery of Canada and the Thoma Foundation, among others. In 2020, she was honored to receive a Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship and a Visiting Artist Fellowship at the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library. Recipient of an Honorary Doctorate from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, she is also a proud member of the Guild of Future Architects. She is represented by ELLEPHANT.

Skawennati has been active in various communities. In the 1980’s she joined the nuclear-disarmament peace group, SAGE (Students Against Global Extermination), and the Quebec Native Women’s Association. In the 90s she co-founded Nation to Nation, a First Nations artist collective, while working in and with various Indigenous organizations and artist-run centres, including the Native Friendship Centre of Montreal and Oboro. In 2005, she co-founded Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace (AbTeC), a research-creation network based at Concordia University whose projects include the Skins workshops on Aboriginal Storytelling and Digital Media as well as the Initiative for Indigenous Futures. Throughout most of the teens, she volunteered extensively for her children’s elementary school, where she also initiated an Indigenous Awareness programme. In 2019, she co-founded centre d’art daphne, Tiohtià:ke/Mooniyang/Montreal’s first Indigenous artist-run centre.

Born in Kahnawà:ke Mohawk Territory, Skawennati belongs to the Turtle clan. She holds a BFA from Concordia University in Montreal.

This event will presented via Zoom. Please register here to attend.

CIRCA is committed to making its events accessible to everyone. Please send an email to circa@umbc.edu to request specific accommodations.

This event is co-sponsored by CIRCA and the Department of Visual Arts.

Image: Skawennati, Renewal, from She Falls for Ages.



November 10
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
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