Folio: “These Threads Hold Memory” honours Indigenous knowledge via digital motifs

In each issue, Broken Pencil asks an artist or curator to host Folio — a section bridging the printed page with unexpected media and materials. In this edition, Carrie Allison adapts a recent exhibition at The New Gallery in Calgary, AB.

These Threads Hold Memory brings together works of art that decentre western notions of information and data by Indigenizing western information paradigms. This exhibition utilizes beading as a tool to share both statistics and thoughts, and to contemplate stereotypical narratives and others that are perhaps unknown.

By mixing so-called “technology,” such as websites, QR codes, and video, with beadwork, this exhibition asks the viewer to recentre and value Indigenous histories and ways of knowing.

I use beading in my practice to connect to her ancestors and gain insight into different Indigenous epistemologies and methodologies. Beading is ceremony, a meditative practice that grounds me in the present. The repetitive gestures of stringing and affixing beads asks the maker to consider the content of the object over a longer time, its passing measured in handiwork.

Beading has always has been a tool of knowing and being. It’s not about the individual bead; it’s about the collective, the whole. Through labour intensive processes, this collection of images situates Indigenous language, visual culture, and knowledge as legitimate, foundational technologies.

Carrie Allison is an Indigenous, mixed-ancestor, multidisciplinary artist born and raised on unceded and unsurrendered Coast Salish Territory (Vancouver, BC), with maternal roots in High Prairie, AB. Situated in K’jipuktuk since 2010, Allison’s practice responds to her maternal Cree and Métis ancestry, thinking through intergenerational cultural loss and acts of reclamation. Allison’s practice is rooted in Indigenous methodologies, research, and pedagogical discourses, spanning various media such as beading, embroidery, handmade paper, watercolour, websites, QR codes, audio and, most recently, video. She holds a Master in Fine Art, a Bachelor in Fine Art and a Bachelor in Art History from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University (NSCAD).