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Meet Kajola Morewood, one of the four artists now featured in Cultural Fabric at the CCBC Shop & Gallery.

Please tell us about yourself.

I attended Emily Carr College of Art and Design in the early 90s and majored in photography. Over the years my focus has changed and I have been working more with textiles and incorporating into my work what has traditionally been seen as women’s craft – embroidery, sewing, quilting, cross stitch. I have generally been interested in these kinds of skills for quite awhile but they have taken on a more important role as I try to connect my adoptive upbringing with my Inuit cultural background.

Since meeting my birth family about 10 years ago, I have been exploring the ideas I had as a child about how I would have grown up as an Inuk and contrasting that with both what I have learned about my birth family and how I actually grew up with my adoptive family. Specifically I’ve been interested in combining the different skills and use of materials that girls have traditionally been taught in these different cultures.

In 2010, I received a grant from the First Peoples’ Heritage, Language and Culture Council which gave me the opportunity to learn how to work with fur. My project was to create a quilt informed by motifs and materials used in traditional Inuit clothing to combine European and Inuit tradition. This project then helped to open the door to participate in the Great Northern Arts Festival in Inuvik where I was able to take workshops with other Inuit artists and learn about things like sewing goose feet into baskets!

I’m always on the look out for conferences/symposiums/art festivals that involve Inuit art and culture. I’ve been fortunate to be able to travel to various events over the years. Right now I’m quite interested in the revival of traditional Indigenous tattooing practices.

What first made you want to become an artist?
I can’t think of any one thing that made me want to be an artist. I’ve just always been interested in working with my hands and making things. In addition to my degree from Emily Carr, I’ve taken courses/workshops in many different subjects, like quilting, woodworking, make-up artistry, and drum making.

What emotional response do people have when they view your work or hold it in their hands?
I’m not really sure! But people definitely want to touch the work when there’s fur involved. I can’t blame them as I have the same feeling myself – it’s hard to resist.

What do you do when you are not creating? Does it feed your practice?
One of my main interests these days is birding. So I spend a fair amount of time out in parks, walking slowly while watching and listening for birds. It doesn’t sound very exciting but I find it to be a nice way to be out in the world. I’ve started collecting some feathers and maybe that will find it’s way into my work.

You can see more of Kajola’s works at www.kajolamorewood.com

Kajola Morewood’s works are on view now alongside Brenda Crabtree, Gaye Fowler, and Michelle Sound at the Cultural Fabric exhibit at the CCBC.

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