Red Rock Indian Band artist Janelle Wawia is keeping busy with creating her art and taking care of custom orders during the COVID-19 global pandemic.
“I’m trying to mix up my time with all the creative ideas I’ve been holding off creating and also working on custom orders,” Wawia says during an e-mail interview. “It’s allowing me more time to stay focused on my art, having the ability to access my art immediately for reprieve, expression and comfort as well as connection to other Indigenous artists.”
Wawia, who was recognized with a Juror’s Award from the Thunder Bay Art Gallery in 2014 and the second annual Barbara Laronde Award from Native Women in the Arts in 2016, says it is important for her to keep doing her art. Wawia designed a Twitter emoji in 2019 that was used on the social media platform in celebration of Indigenous History Month and her fashion designs were shown at the 2018 Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto, New Moon Runway Showcase.
“It’s important to continue creating because it is keeping me connected to my spirit and the land,” Wawia says. “I work with items from my trapline, so it is a reminder that we are still here, we are warriors and will keep pushing through. Creating also keeps me connected to others by sharing through social media if I want to. It’s good to stay grounded and for me that’s the land and my art.”
Wawia says that she created a series of earrings called The Birch Series and held a giveaway on Instagram during this time of isolation due to COVID-19.
“I released a new series of earrings that take me back to my childhood — it is called The Birch Series and I recreated birch trees,” Wawia says. “Currently there is Basic Birch and Spring Birch. I also completed a giveaway on Instagram — that was fun. I notice other artists doing the same and thinking of so many creative ways to stay in contact with each other through this. It’s so amazing.”
Wawia says her daily routine is driven by her custom orders and her need to be creative.
“The routine consists of where I am at with orders or what is pressing to come out and be created,” Wawia says. “I try to find a balance because I still need to stay connected to my own creativity. With custom orders I am most always free to create what I want but I’m talking other ideas that keep piling up. Artists. Ha!”
Wawia adds that she and other people in the arts community have been keeping connected through social media and other ways of sharing their creativity.
“I’m so grateful to be part of this art community who continue to inspire me while at the same time, my pride for our people just replicates,” Wawia says.
Wawia encourages people to find new ways to do what feels good for them while the country is on lockdown to flatten the curve of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I would tell people to do what feels good for you,” Wawia says. “If you are unable to create like you used to, find new ways to express what wants to come out. Do what feels good.”