Talkin’ art and life with Eagleclaw
Art residency established to support local artists
University of Regina artist-in-residence Eagleclaw Thom recently caught up with the Carillon to talk about his artistry and his post at the U of R.
Where does your artistic side come from?
I have no idea (laughs). That’s like asking a carpenter why they like working with wood, you know? It’s just something that I do, and that’s about it. I’m not really good at answering that question.
What’s your earliest memory of embracing your artistic and creative side?
When I did a play called A Northside Story or Two. I didn’t really do much in the way of art stuff before that, though I did a lot of poetry, like a lot of teenagers out there. I really got into acting at about that time, and I really enjoyed it. It was a great way to express what I was feeling in a cool and interesting way.
When did you realize that this could become a career for you?
I went to school for visual arts and got a degree in Indian arts. While doing that, I worked as a graphic designer, photographer and videographer to get myself through school. And then I continued on working as a graphic designer and photographer after I was finished university. As far as doing art stuff, I’ve mostly been in the background, helping other people do their art until more recently, when I realized I’ve got a lot of stuff to say, so I might as well say it by doing that.
What are you currently working on?
Currently I’m working on a series of paintings of bunnies done on bunny pelt. I’m using that as a fundraiser to get enough capital to work on a large piece of art called “What We Lost.”
When you sit down to create, what’s your process? What goes through your mind when you’re starting something?
Usually it’s just a bunch of trial and error, you know? I think something could be cool, so I try it. If it’s not cool, I’ll try something else. And then I go from there. I like being cheeky. I try to make things that people will look at and either laugh or not get it or be offended or try to talk about it.
Is that the whole point – to create a dialogue?
No, but it’s a nice side effect. The reason I start making something is because I feel it has to be made. I feel like it’s an obligation, like people need to see it. Or I’ll make something for myself. If there’s a dialogue, that’s a great side effect and I appreciate it. But that’s not the initial reason.
For someone who doesn’t know – myself included – what is the role of artist-in-residence?
Just to show how to work as a professional artist, to create dialogue, to show your work to the community, and to work with the community to create new works. It’s about community-based participation, which is what I strive for.
Just what kind of opportunity is this for you? How happy are you to have this role?
I’m really happy. I love going to the university. I pretty much grew up there; my mom went to university there, taught there, and currently she runs the Indigenous Peoples’ Health Research Centre. I enjoy going back to the university; it’s like going home. I spent a lot of time there growing up, I went there for my degree and hopefully there are more art opportunities that lead to bigger showings and I don’t have to be a graphic designer for too much longer, which is the goal.