sacred skin explores the resurgence of Indigenous tattooing practices as they relate to cultural revitalization. This exhibition showcases the work of 7 Indigenous tattoo artists – Audie Murray, Dion Kaszas, GiG – K’aajuu G’aaya, Holly Mititquq Nordlum, Nahaan, Nakkita Trimble and Nicole Neidhardt.
Each artists’ individual process of creating a tattoo piece is emphasized in this exhibition – the forms, aesthetics, meanings, and knowledge that they utilize. sacred skin contributes to the awareness, documentation and resurgence of this art form.
Join us at our Opening Night on June 14th from 6 – 10pm at SFU Goldcorp Centre for the Arts. Register here.
Exhibition from 9 am to 5 pm Monday to Saturday at SFU Goldcorp Centre for the Arts.
View artwork and the artists self-description of how they see their designs impacting culture.
Hi my name is Dion Kaszas I am an Nlaka’pamux ancestral embodied mark maker. I have been tattooing professionally since 2009 and started the revival of Nlaka’pamux skin marking in 2012. I travel to National and International events and tattoo festivals representing Nlaka’pamux and Indigenous skin marking in Canada.
I have been featured in Tattoo Traditions of Native North America: Ancient and Contemporary Expressions of Identity, The World Atlas of Tattoo, and Newspaper articles from the New York Times to the CBC. I am featured in a variety documentary films and TV series. These include Skindigenous, a 3 Season, 13-part documentary series exploring Indigenous tattooing traditions around the world and the FOX series USA Ink.
Gig- K’aajuu G’aaya is a professional tattoo artist who began his journey learning from artist Mark Paroyan. He now has a shop in Daajiing Giids on Haida Gwaii called Haida Inkk. Gig has also been a visiting artist at several high-end shops, surrounded by extremely talented artists – Liquid Amber Tattoo & Art Collective in Vancouver and Divine Ink in Terrace, BC. With the new mentors at these professional shops, Gig continues to elevate and grow as an artist and a person.
Focusing in Haida art and realism, he continues to study and absorb knowledge from Haida/Tlingit mentor Nahaan, and Salish artist Dion Kaszas. Gig was invited to New Zealand by the Maori to attend Wānanga Indigenous, a convention and education event in Taurnaga. This was a magical experience with beautiful, talented artists and people who changed his life as an artist and person, connecting the mind, body and soul. Gig continues to use the machine as well as different techniques of hand poke tattooing from Indigenous cultures.
Holly Mititquq Nordlum is an Iñupiaq (Inuit) artist who grew up in and outside the northern village of Kotzebue, Alaska. Nordlum works in a variety of media, using each to best cast light on indigenous people. Her tattoo work and traditional markings revitalization effort is based on a 10,000-year Inuit history and is a machine-free process that facilitates healing, pride and celebration from the traumas of colonization and individual experience. She organizes trainings, using traditional patterns in in-depth sessions to foster real change for people. In the end, creating community in the marks left behind. Nordlum’s public artwork education about the still-surviving tribes of Alaska: their stories, histories and cultures. Holly speaks publicly about the systems which continue to oppress her people and prevent their thriving.
In 2004 she earned a Bachelor of Fine Art Degree from the University of Alaska, in the last five years she received a Time Warner Fellow with Sundance, an Art Matters grant and a Alaska Humanities Forum grant, an Alaska Native Visionary Award, a Rasmuson Artist Project Grant and an artist Fellowship, NDN Collective Indigenous Artists Grant and was part of Smithsonian’s NMAI’s Artist Leadership Program
Nahaan’s matrilineal lineage is of the Tlingit, his grandfather is Iñupiaq, his biological father of the Paiute and his actual father is of the Kaigani Haida. He focuses exclusively on working within the spirit and design style of the Northwest Coast practices and customs of ceremonial tattooing, wood carving, copper and abalone jewelry, painting and custom designing of regalia and tattoos.
Nahaan emulates the strong visual and oral storytelling that has been handed down from generation to generation, it’s the foundation of his work, way of living and teaching of his cultural traditions. Within the realms of language arts and expression, Nahaan teaches the Tlingit language through traditional songs, dances and free Indigenous only community classes as a service to his community. He is the leader for Tlingit based inter-tribal group Náakw Dancers, a group he started in Seattle, Washington in 2014, in order to perpetuate the rich expressions of the Pacific Northwests Native population.
Nahaan is also a spoken word poet and co-founded “Woosh Kinaadeiyí” poetry slam in Juneau, Alaska in 2010 which has since grown into a thriving and creative mainstay in the capitol city. He focuses on the aspects of community empowerment and self mastery through the methods of dekkkolonization, Indigenization, education and activism. He offers workshop facilitation and keynotes for conferences, schools, and events near and far. Nahaan is based on the ancestral lands of the Dxʷdəwʔabš (Duwamish), Muckleshoot and Suquamish Nations aka Seattle.
Nakkita Trimble has been working on tattoo revival for the Nisga’a Nation since 2013. With a Canada Council grant, she hopes to create 80 House crest tattoos.Trimble, whose Nisga’a name is Speaking Through Art, began practicing tattoo art in 2014 using traditional methods like hand-poking and skin-stitching. She is deeply involved in reviving ceremonial tattooing, which she views as medicine in the face of high suicide rates among Indigenous youth. The designs are maternal and connected back through generations according to a crest system, binding tattoo recipients to their mothers’ ancestors and linking them to creation stories.