Grace Howse


Mixed media installation
Dimensions variable

Artist Statement

The Bag
The Plains Cree are akin to the Wasbison (MossBag). It is the external Womb, designed to transition the infant from Woman to World.  Also known as a child development tool, the Wasbison holds the infant in an upright position allowing the learning to be through observation – this forms the basis of their cultural socialization. Furthermore; strapped to the Mother’s back, this position allows for extensive travelling and observing the landscape.  It is a piece that provides warmth, protection and self-discipline.  The exterior adornment of Wasbison tells us much about the infant’s identity from Tribal group to status.

The Moss
Every morning Moss (sphagnum) was gathered, washed, cleaned and dried. It was then placed in the Wasbison (MossBag) to catch the baby’s discharge, much like a diaper.  FYI, Moss contains a natural antiseptic to prevent diaper rash.
The Moss is our Ancestor who has been with us since time immemorial.
The Moss is our Grandmother who helps us with our children.
The Moss is our Mentor who strengthens our relationship to the Land.
It ain’t easy being green.

The Art
..represents four genders that are talked about in Neheyawin culture. 
   Female-Two Spirit
   Male-Two Spirit
The BlueBag, the LoveBag is hung for all the conversations yet to come.
Upon the closing of the show the install will be taken back to its original home in the forest on the beautiful lands of the unceded, yet stolen territory of the Squamish people as a gesture of gratitude and respect. 

The Resistance
The colonial lens viewed the Wasbison as heathen and unfit for an infant, yet it was gifted to us by our Chapan’s and their’s. They knew the importance and teachings of the Wasbison.  For children are so sacred we must treat them that way.
Ribbon (Waybinawsinen) is used as protocol in many of our Neheyawin ceremonies. It is sacred fabric. The Wasbison has a very important and sacred role with NewLife. Ribbons are the blessings, the offerings for a beautiful Life, a gift to the Creator.
When we bring an infant into this World through Wasbison teachings, we are blessing this newborn with unconditional Love and promising acceptance without judgment…regardless!
Mixed media installation
Dimensions variable