helped me feel re-born, in a way. I’ve been learning more about my identity. I say yes to all workshop invitations now, as it will help my daughter learn about her identity,” she says. Her profound respect for the art form is contagious. She shows me a relic from her childhood, a ziplock bag full of subtly-coloured fish scales, dyed with rosehips. She explains how plants were once used to dye the scales before the tradition was contemporized. At one point, artists began leaching the dye from torn tissue paper, and now it is most often bingo dabbers or Rit clothing dye that are used. The results are ultra-bright neon colourations, a unique pop-art/nature-art hybrid. Overvold layers tie-dye pigments and nail-salon hardeners in her own work, and she has pushed art in a new direction – vertebrae adornments with a definite punk-rock esthetic. “These are made for warriors,” she says, holding up a spiky pair of earrings, “but they are also delicate.” She places a tiny square of birchbark in my hand, on which one of her students, a child,
had glued a fish scale flower. The stem is made of a single, slightly curved fish rib. “I want to change the dialogue around fish bodies,” she says. “They should not be thought of as garbage. The bones and scales are so intricate and beautiful. We value the land. We can also value the gifts of the water.” Learn more about Charlotte Overvold’s art at nwtarts.com/artist-profile/charlotte-overvold
Top left: An intricate 3D scene consisting of a whitefish bone butterfly perched on a birchbark flower, fish scale covered birchbark cocoon, and grass accents made out of whitefish fish ribs. Top center: These dots on birchbark are earrings made from whitefish vertebrae. Top right: A whitefish bone butterfly with natural accents from the land.
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