Shelby Lisk is an emerging artist from the Tyendinaga Mohawk Nation. In her artwork she explores her socially constructed identity by investigating gender roles, relationship dynamics and her background as a Haudenosaunee and Canadian woman and what it means to straddle the line between these identities. She employs text, installation, photography and video. Her work can be interpreted as an intersectional, feminist and Indigenous approach to an investigation of personal identity. Shelby has exhibited work in Ottawa, Toronto and Chicago. She graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts and minor in Women’s Studies from the University of Ottawa in 2015.
The Modified Landscapes series was created as a response to the colonial history of landscape painting. I related the ideas of ownership that landscape painters portrayed in their work to the laws that were used to take ownership over Indigenous people’s land in “Canada”, by striking out their work with my handwritten words. The three pieces depict the three major laws or rules that were used to justify the take-over of Indigenous lands: Terra Nullius, meaning “land belonging to no one”, Section 91(24) of the British North American act which states that the Queen has power over all “Indians and land reservations for Indians” and the section of the Indian Act pertaining to land, still in effect today.
Along with those alterations, I have modified the landscapes by digitally rearranging elements to create an image that never existed, much like the colonial landscape paintings which often emptied, altered, or romanticized the land. I am interested in who is given the privilege to tell our stories and who is listened to, what forms of knowledge are more easily accepted and taken for granted as truth. I would like to question and interject into these narratives to allow the viewer to bring their awareness to the multitudes of perspectives, stories and histories that exist.