Tamara Lee-Anne Cardinal

Tamara Lee-Anne Cardinal

Tamara Lee-Anne Cardinal

Artist sees creativity as beginning anew

Tamara Lee-Anne Cardinal is a mixed media, large scale installation artist and a community activist who moved from Treaty 6 territory to Calgary/Mohkinsstsis 13 years ago, graduating with a bachelor of Fine Arts and Sculpture from the Alberta University of the Arts in 2015 and earning numerous awards for her work.

Cardinal, who is of Cree, Austrian, Ukrainian and German descent, has also been an active member of the urban Indigenous community in Treaty 7 territory. She discusses her performance piece Back Into the Earth: Creation and the Interpretation of Meaning — which won her the BMO 1st Art! Competition Award — and the time and effort contributed by all the people who helped her hand roll clay jingles, building a sense of community and sharing skills.

“After the dance was performed… talking with others within the arts community, they would always tell me it’s an endurance piece, and I never quite understood what they meant because I’m like, you know, this is how I practice,” she says. “When I was really into getting back into jingle dress dancing, I would go outside and I’d practice for, you know, an hour at a time maybe. And I’d dance maybe like a full straight half an hour. And I’m like, isn’t that just what we do?”

Cardinal is currently attending Mount Royal University as a full-time student in the Faculty of Psychology and her arts practice continues to be a reflection of the teachings she receives along with her journey. She also sees art as providing an opportunity for healing, including for the intergenerational trauma caused by the residential school system and other atrocities experienced by members of the Indigenous community.

“That’s passed down. And I think as artists, you know, we have such an opportunity to heal those wounds and cycles of potential violence that comes with, and just the harm, and like their hurts and pains that come with all of that, that history raised,” she says. “But art is, it’s like beginning, beginning anew.”

Since Cardinal had her own new beginning in Calgary/Mohkinsstsis, she has connected to her adopted home. “…When I went back to Lloydminster I would often go to the North Saskatchewan River and that would be like my place of solace. And I can find a similar piece of heart when I sit next to the Bow River, and it’s like less of the hustle and bustle areas…. So I’m coming to know and coming to feel a different sense of home in my heart to these lands. I feel that it’s another home base and just the connections that I’ve made throughout these last 13 years have been really immense.”

Tune in to this week’s Indigenous Stories podcast to learn more about Tamara Lee-Anne Cardinal, finding her identity and sharing her Indigenous art in a meaningful way.

About The Storytelling Project: Indigenous Stories

Part of The Storytelling Project, this series raises awareness about local Indigenous artists who, by living creative lives, are making Calgary a better city, affecting positive change and enriching others’ lives.

Sharing diverse stories of creativity in our city, The Storytelling Podcast shines a spotlight on artists and projects that connect Calgarians to the arts.

Have a story to share? Email us at submissions@calgaryartsdevelopment.com.

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