An artist of Plains Cree and Scottish ancestry, Ruth Cuthand’s practice explores the frictions between cultures, the failures of representation, and the political uses of anger. Cuthand’s beaded portraits present enlarged microscopic views of some of the deadly viruses and bacteria that have impacted (and often decimated) First Nations communities in both the distant past and the present day. The luminous beaded disks floating on black suede are both seductive and repellant, using materials and techniques that have long been denied status as ‘serious art’ to confront the most difficult truths about Canadian society and the impacts of colonization.
Cuthand’s beaded portraits of infectious agents significant to indigenous people, past and present, were featured in the survey show of contemporary Canadian art, Oh, Canada, at MASS MoCA in 2012, which subsequently travelled across Canada. Cuthand’s solo exhibition and accompanying catalogue, Back Talk (works 1983-2009), toured across Eastern Canada including Plug In ICA (Winnipeg, MB), Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery (Halifax, NS), and Mendel Art Gallery (Saskatoon, SK), amongst others. In 2013, Cuthand was awarded the Saskatchewan Lieutenant Governor’s Arts Award and in 2015 was named an Alumni of Influence by the College of Arts and Science at the University of Saskatchewan. Her large-scale installation Don’t Breathe, Don’t Drink is part of the permanent collection at the Art Gallery of Ontario and she is currently artist in residence at Wanuskewin Heritage Park, SK.
Ruth Cuthand holds an MFA from the University of Saskatchewan, and currently lives and works in Saskatoon, SK.