Aura: Healing art seeks to banish misrepresentations of indigenous people

Muralist Aura, an indigenous artist from the Oneida Nation of the Thames in Ontario, is deeply inspired by the healing process. Her mixed media artworks feature photographic images of indigenous people which are surrounded by Aura’s auric interpretations – encased in floral images and emanating love.

The Toronto-based artist, otherwise known as Monique Bedard, layers different materials including acrylic paint, collage, photo transfers, and beadwork in her pieces.

As an indigenous artist, Aura says there is much to draw from, including stories, teachings, and community.

The florals used throughout Aura’s work is symbolic. They represent protection, growth, identity, voice, strength of women, truth, and love. The florals spread out from different areas of the body – the mouth, the heart, the head and the feet, for instance – which demonstrates the healing journey.

It is evident in Aura’s artworks that she follows her heart and honours what’s important to her as an individual but also as part of a community. She combine paintings, drawing, beadwork and collage to examine stories that are connected to the mind, body, and soul.

Aura explains: “I aim to address the pain of intergenerational trauma as well as intergenerational healing to communicate experiences from the inside out. By unearthing my own stories, I am able to strengthen connections where the process creates awareness and understanding; this experience is ultimately part of the healing journey.”

Aura’s recent series, titled Akwelyá•ne | Kayá•tale’ (My Heart | Portraits), sets out to challenge the often negative beliefs about indigenous communities. She says: “There are so many times people in our communities are misrepresented or seen in a negative light. It is my goal with this series to create portraits of people in a good way. [Artist] Chief Lady Bird said that I put ’emphasis on individual truths, reclamation of our identity, sovereignty over our bodies and emotions, and the importance of love,’ which is my intention.”

Aura adds: “I also give people the option to share a story or quote that ultimately becomes the caption. Too often, other people decide what our stories are and I want my art to serve as a platform for people to reclaim their stories.

“I have the passion for community engagement, collaboration and social change where stories are shared through the art making process. Through a holistic approach, it is my aim to empower people by honing in on individuals’ strengths. My goal is to build art projects that lead to a deep sense of understanding while connecting through unity, collaboration and transformation.”

All images: © Aura


Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief @rosamedea

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