My work is an exploration of living in the space between two cultures. I grew up in the Gwich’in community of Fort Yukon and in Fairbanks. As a child these two communities often seemed to represent two opposing worlds; my Gwich’in culture and my non-native Western culture. I often struggled to reconcile the two and my place in them. I am aware that I’m not the only person living in a middle area and I hope my work speaks to all who know what it's like to live in those less defined spaces. My relationship to each culture is in constant flux as I have new experiences: have children, get older, lose loved ones and see the changes to cultures themselves. I see my paintings as fluid as well, they feel alive and the possibility they may change or grow is always present.
Working with traditional Gwich’in sewing materials and other elements from nature allows me to show the influence of my two cultures. I choose materials that bring feelings of comfort, home, care and belonging.
Artist Profile: www.rasmuson.org/49writers/colleen-firmin-thomas/