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, and the identity politics surrounding Indigenous Peoples of North America. With this, she fosters a dialogue regarding these marginalized communities' treatment, representation, and voice. The work often emphasizes concepts of loss and 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 smudging and other physical acts of exertion to connect herself with the natural landscape and her spirituality. Sutherland draws attention to how 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.