Eruoma Awashish holds a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary arts from Université du Québec à Chicoutimi, and is in the process of completing a master’s degree in art (research and creation). She took part in the 4th edition of Biennale d’art contemporain autochtone (BACA, Contemporary Native Art Biennial), and presented an installation at the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts in the winter of 2017–2018, a project developed as part of the “Déranger” creative lab in partnership with the National Film Board (NFB) and Oboro Art Centre.
With every step, we leave behind a footprint. We are following in the steps of our ancestors and, at the same time, forging a path for the next generations. As we walk into the future, new promise springs forth.
Awashish seeks to create a space for dialogue to enhance understanding of First Nations culture. At the core of her artistic approach are the themes of identity and the sacred. The daughter of a Québécois mother and Atikamekw Nehirowisiw father, Awashish’s roots, in her view, give her a keen perspective on the differences between these two peoples, inspiring her to create works that foster reconciliation. Eruoma Awashish grew up in her home community of Opitciwan and resided for a time in Wemotaci, before establishing her workshop in Pekuakami (Lac-St-Jean), in the Innu community of Mashteuiatsh.
The artist’s work is rich in spirituality, symbolism, and syncretism. She often uses and deforms symbols of Catholicism as a way to reappropriate her own spirituality and decolonize religious symbols in contemporary First Nations culture. “It is by rejecting the doctrine and institutional aspect of religions that we enable true spirituality to emerge.”
Featuring symbols that intertwine and clash, her work speaks both of contrast and métissage, duality and balance, injury and healing, grief and rites, and life and the passage to the other world. Eruoma Awashish is an interdisciplinary artist who explores a range of media, including painting, installations, sculpture, video, sound art, silkscreen, photography, digital arts, and traditional dance.
"A culture that survives over the centuries is a culture that adapts and evolves. First Nations culture is a strong one, because it has never allowed itself to be subsumed by the dominant culture. Despite attempts to assimilate it, our culture has survived and evolved; it has transformed…" – Eruoma Awashish