Evelyn Mikayla Martin (Itsooaakii)
“My work primarily consists of self-portraits that highlight the complexities of engaging in ancient ceremonial practices and having transfer rights as a Piikani’aakii (Blackfeet woman). Through my paintings, I work to reclaim a sense of autonomy and agency over representations of myself and my narrative as a young Blackfeet woman who grew up living out our ceremonial way of life. There is a unique responsibility and power specific to Blackfoot women that I work to show in my paintings; my work seeks to remind Blackfoot women, girls, and Natook'iitapii (individuals who hold multiple gender expressions) that we are rich in resiliency, and we deserve to have space held for us where our voices can be centered and our beauty can be celebrated. The title of this particular piece, "Ii’pait’aapiiyisinn", translates to “Way of Life.” I want my painting to serve as a reminder that Siksikaitsitapii have occupied this area known as Mohkinstsis (so called Calgary, Alberta) since time immemorial.”
Evelyn Mikayla Martin (Itsooaakii) (Blackfeet Tribe of Montana, Comanche Tribe of Oklahoma, Squamish Nation of Canada, and Filipina) is an art educator and artist who works to center her own personal narrative regarding the processes of navigating mental health, cultural identity, and reclamation of space as an Indigenous femme. Her body of work primarily consists of self-portraits (acrylic on canvas) that serve to hold space for herself and all of her intersecting identities, along with other BIPOC women whose identities and lived experiences resonate with her own. In 2019, she was selected to be one of the keynote speakers of the Women’s March Seattle. During the speech, Mikayla spoke about immediately initiating an action plan for a united and ardent effort to end the global crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.
Our gratitude to Mike Tan and Resolve Photo for their in-kind support of this project. This project was made possible with the support of Calgary Foundation.