Liz Carter



Artist Statement

Renunciation #4

Gerald Vizenor is an Anishinaabe cultural theorist who coined the word ‘survivance’ in his essay ‘Manifest Manners.’ He explains that ‘survivance’ is about survival, the refusal of dominance, and refusal of victimry and examines the active presence of Native’s in the world. The ‘refusal’ is Vizenor’s survivance paradigm. Our teaching’s of a manifested destiny starts early in life, we learn from inclusion of Native history and from exclusion of Native history that Aboriginals’ live in a world or drunkenness, barbarism, romanticism and dominance that Vizenor’s ‘Postindian warriors’ continually fights with stories of survivance.” (Vizenor 4)

‘Renunciation #4’ explores the ‘Post Indian Survivance’ of Residential Schools. It’s a story of attempted genocide and survival. Survivance is about education of the historical trauma and healing through continual present-day storytelling. ‘Renunciation #4’ examines the historical element of putting our children in schools and attempting to infuse them with colonial ideologies. The infusion in ‘Renunciation #4’ is filled with organic life giving materials that connect us to the land, a place of sustainability. The broken copper pattern on the desk is surrounded by healing medicine, suggesting a survival and refusal of dominance. The ‘Indian Warriors of Survivance’ is at work fighting racism, discrimination with an active sense of presence and self-determination.

“The grass is [not always] greener on the other side of the fence” as the old proverb suggests, but ‘Renunciation 4’ is hopeful, its repetitive writing on the chalk board is an act of taking back, and reclaiming, its infusion of organic land based materials suggests healing and growth. Survivance is a departure of the manifestation of privilege and imperial powers. Our ‘warriors’ are present day First Nations peoples who fight the falsehoods that exploit their culture, and their tools are the tradition tribal stories, stories of active presence and a renunciation of victimry. As ‘warriors’ we must continue to light the fires with yesterdays embers so we understand the social and political power relationship that lead to the colonial reality of domination so it may never happen again.

Vizenor Gerald, “Postindian Warriors” (1994), in Manifest Manners: Narratives on Postindian Survivance (Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press, 1999), 1-19.

The Blackboard project

The copying and repetitiveness of “Line Writing,” was used to punishment misbehaving students by teachers. Line writing publically and privately humiliated students and portrayed them as weak and powerless not unlike the method of corporal punishment where punishment was inflicted on ones body. The offending student’s finger’s and hand’s become sore and cramped from the mindless repetition, enhancing the penance supplied by their educators. The “Blackboard project” I am envisioning is to turn the negative shaming into a positive prayer.

The prayer I would like to see on the “Blackboard Project” is what Gerald Vizenor calls “survivance.” Vizenor is a cultural theorist and he writes, “The Postindian warriors are new indications of a narrative recreation, the simulations that overcome the manifest manners of dominance.” (Vizenor 1979) The native warrior is present and active in “the simulation of survivance in new stories”(Vizenor 1982) of presence rather then deracination. The Native Warrior of Survivance is the continuance or stories in the present.

The stories on the ‘Blackboard’ will be stories of continuance, stories of presence, a chant filled with goodwill for the future. The Blackboard will be interactive, a place where everyone can contribute to the Prayer.

Vizenor Gerald, “Postindian Warriors” (1994), in Manifest Manners: Narratives on Postindian Survivance (Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press, 1999), 1-19.

Artist Bio

Visually expressing herself has been a lifelong commentary for Liz Carter. Drawing and painting came first, followed by an introduction to many different art forms and mediums in College. Not being able to settle with one medium Carter creates work using an array of mixed media.

Liz Carter is a person of First Nations ancestry who has been displaced from her cultural roots. This has had profound affect upon Carter’s work as an artist. Carter says, “It is a life riddle” that has taken her upon a biographical journey full of unanswered questions about displacement and loss of tradition. Carter’s search has uncovered a realm of commercial images of the ‘Imaginary Indian’ that profoundly impacts our perception. It has also revealed the determined struggle of Kwakwaka’wakw culture to carry forward ancient symbols and meanings into a contemporary life.

Carter’s journey through the labyrinth of mixed meanings embedded within her Native ancestry and her blue-collar upbringing is driven by process. She uses culturally significant materials like wood, copper, buttons, and animal skins in new ways – with hints from the past and questions about how cultures are interpreted.

Originally from Alert Bay, Carter currently resides with her family in Campbell River. She is a graduate of North Island College’s Fine Arts program. She has received numerous awards including the VADA, (Visual Arts Development Award) A First Peoples, Heritage, Language and Cultural Award, BC Arts Council Award, and recently had work purchased by the Canadian Art Bank in Ottawa and awarded a commission of a permanent piece for the 2010 Olympics.