Kathleen Elkins Ross

Modern WarPaint and Protector, Provider, Paternal

Modern WarPaint
Fiber Based Print
11” x 13″

Protector, Provider, Paternal
Resin Coated Print
3′ x 4′

Artist Statement

In some Indigenous cultures, warriors would adorn themselves in their finest, and paint their faces accordingly before warring with another nation. Adorning oneself in this way wasn’t to impress their enemies or anyone else for that matter, it was to be fully prepared and entirely ready to meet the creator in such a way that shows the utmost appreciation for life. 
For Indigenous people our colonial present is a daily battle, we never know what could happen in our Indigenous Post Apocalypse. With the ongoing issue and yet to be answered reccomendations coming out of Canada’s inquiry into the Missing and Murdered Women, Girls, Transgendered, and Two Spirit people, and the recent 215 unmarked graves at Tkemlups te Secewepemc Residential school, death has become normalized for the Indigenous body. Mainstream culture assumes we are prone to stereotype and ignorance and therefore deserving of it. With this in mind I prepare myself each morning, showing my utmost appreciation for my life, ready to battle another day. My warpaint accentuates my features. My blanket is my children, my husband, my community, my nation-  it is my comfort and my protection. I complete this look with the sacred medicine I burn to clear my mind, to cleanse my spirit, to shield me from that which would seek to do me harm.
Too often I have seen Indigenous men portrayed from the settler gaze, that is antagonistic in such a way that romanticizes or ultimately dehumanizes them, forever relegating them as a kind of imaginary Indian. I question that when these matters don’t affect you personally, how does one’s humanity not stand out to you clearly? 
The imaginary Indian man exists in the forefront of the settler imagination only as welfare bums, criminals, deadbeat dads, or raging alcoholics and every mainstream Canadian News media platform perpetuates this lack of vision and oversight. How then would your gaze of this image change if I tell you what I see? What if we attach new meaning to the various components that make up this image?
What is seen to ‘the other’ as a protestor, as confrontational, as troublesome, and degenerate, I see a protector, a provider, a lover, a warrior, a son, a father, and a best friend. I see a line of men, an unyielding and unwavering force. His very existence today, after everything his line has and will endure is captured in the bow’s tension. The arrow meets it’s mark when the warrior sees his target clearly and has the heart to see it through.

Kathleen Ross is a Tsilhqot’in from Yunesit’in. Her Maternal Grandparents are Jack (late) and Lila (late) Elkins, Adopted Maternal Grandparents Otto (late) and Theresa (late) Quilt. She was born to Joanna (late) Elkins, and raised by her Second Generation Irish/Scottish Settler Great Uncle/Father David Ross and Great Aunt/Mother Madeline (late) Myers.

Coming from a cultural upbringing, Ross gives thought to those that are yet to come through creating an archive of imagery of indigenous people that is uplifting and entirely about resurgence. Thriving to leave an archive of knowledge to capture the hearts and minds of indigenous people and to captivate the settler imagination through images of this time and the various facets of indigenous cultures. She seeks to contribute to an already established creative culture and make a mark in the Fine Art world as Deni Artist.