Photo credit: Jasmine Jones
Julia Rose Sutherland (b.1991) is a Mi’kmaq (Metepenagiag Nation) / settler artist and educator (Assistant Professor at OCADU) based out of Tkaronto (Toronto, Canada). Sutherland’s interdisciplinary art practice employs photography, sculpture, textiles, and performance. She earned her MFA at the University at Buffalo (2019) and BFA in Craft and New Media at the Alberta University of the Arts (2013). She has exhibited nationally and internationally, recently showing work at the Bemis Center of Contemporary Art, the Mackenzie Art Gallery, K Art Gallery, WAAP Gallery, and 59 Rivoli Gallery in Paris, France. Sutherland is a recent recipient of the Canada Council for the Arts Creating Knowing Sharing award and the AFA Indigenous Individual Project grant.
Sutherland navigates trauma and social issues associated with her Indigenous roots as a Mi'kmaq woman of the Metepenagiag Nation of Canada. She addresses the systems of commodification, representation, value as well as the identity politics surrounding Indigenous Peoples of North America. With this, she fosters a dialogue regarding the treatment, representation, and voice of these marginalized communities. Often the work emphasizes concepts of loss, absence, alongside adapted Metepenagiag Mi'kmaq Nation traditional materials and techniques. Through her work, Sutherland reconnects a sense of identity and pushes to engage a more mindful conversation around topical subjects such as addiction, mental health, feminism, and Indigenous healing praxis and identity politics.
Through performative action, she engages traditional and spiritual methods such as the act of smudging and other physical acts of exertion to connect herself with the natural landscape and her spirituality. Sutherland draws attention to the way in which colonialism, postcolonial trauma and economics have had an everlasting effect on Mi'kmaq spiritual wellbeing, mental health, and health inflictions such as diabetes and heart disease.