Krystle Silverfox

Yukon Art Prize Artist Spotlight: Art as activism – exploring land politics and identity through conceptual works

ch’i cha jų̃ kwa’ch’e Dän däw Kwenjè Indigenous Sovereignty

Krystle Silverfox is a Northern Tutchone artist belonging to the Wolf Clan of Selkirk First Nation in Pelly Crossing, YT. She lives and works on the unceded territory of the Qayqayt First Nation in New Westminster, BC. After receiving a BA in Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice followed by a BFA in Visual Arts from the University of British Columbia, Silverfox earned her MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts at Simon Fraser University.

Krystle Silverfox, Hats’adän echo (Elders teachings) (2020). COURTESY THE YUKON PRIZE FOR VISUAL ARTS.

While her artistic practice spans many mediums — including installation, photography, beading and new media — painting is a favourite: “Painting gives me space to think, grieve, and express myself. It has been an integral part of my artistic practice and a part of who I am.” Her works often address themes such as resource extraction, Indigenous feminism, (de)colonialism, and belonging and identity, and are informed by her experiences living as an urban Indigenous woman.

The materials Silverfox employs are chosen with care, and are often integral to the pieces themselves. For example, in Royal Teas (2020), a still life examining concepts of kinship and the land, copper appears alongside sage, abalone and a feather as “good medicine” in the form of a teapot, which belonged to her grandmother. Conversely, in her installation All That Glitters Is Not Gold (2019), the copper pennies attached to a cut Hudson’s Bay blanket are representative of mining operations taking place on First Nations territories, including a personal connection for Silverfox, where the mining company Goldcorp are currently operating on the traditional territory of Selkirk First Nation.

Silverfox’s work has appeared in group exhibitions and collections across Canada. She has participated in several residencies and artist initiatives, including the Shakaat Artist Residency Program hosted by the Kwalin Dün Cultural Centre in Whitehorse, YT; the AGO X RBC Emerging Artists Exchange; and the Banff Centre’s Emerging Visual Artist Intensive.

Credit: This video was originally published by The Polygon Gallery on May 17, 2021. COURTESY THE POLYGON GALLERY.