Mary Modeen

TITLE: Reliquary for Mary Grasshopper and a Lost Nation
DATE: 2013
MEDIUM: wood, glass, bones, thread, digital print, gouache, ink
DIMENSIONS/RUN TIME: 13 1/2″ x 17 3/4″
DESCRIPTION/STATEMENT: This piece begins and ends with bones. A reliquary typically contains relics associated with a holy person, or a small fragment of a person’s body part. Kings and queen, for example, occasionally have reliquaries that reputedly contain fingers or arm bones. Reliquaries are material inducements for memory. In this instance, I began thinking about the various qualities of memory, how little we know of the past, and for me, how little I know of my own ancestors. In this last case, the lost memories are not only repressed family stories, but the governmental ‘forgetting’ of the Native Americans/First Nation Canadians. My mother, grandmother and great grandmother were all Ojibwe (Chippewa), Fond du Lac tribal members. Although no one can quite recall exactly, and in ways that can no longer be researched or substantiated, my great great grandmother was thought to be a woman known as Mary Grasshopper. All one knows now is that if she was this person, she was born in the 19th C, grew, bore children, and died. Somewhere, her bones are like a bare truth.