Birch Bark Biting is an early form of mark-making done by Indigenous peoples across Turtle Island where birch trees are present. There are only a few people still practicing birch bark biting today. These bitings were, and continue to be used to illustrate stories, as a pattern for beadwork and artistic expression. They are created by using very thin pieces of birch bark, and with your teeth an image is bitten into the bark.
This piece is a digitization of a birch bark biting that has then been reproduced through risograph printing. The biting can be interpreted as chickadees flying around flowers. Algonquins have been sharing this territory with animal and plant relatives since time-immemorial. The chickadee is present throughout Ottawa and visible in every season. We can learn resilience, adaptability and joy from these birds through their relationship to the environment around them. Understanding that Indigenous Peoples have a deep connection to the land, both physically and spiritually, re-centres Indigenous knowledge and pedagogy.
- Mairi Brascoupé
Mairi Brascoupé is a multidisciplinary Indigenous artist born and raised on unceded Algonquin Territory in Ottawa. Her work is inspired by land-based learning and intergenerational knowledge sharing, using traditional methods of creating while integrating them with contemporary media through the use of printmaking, beadwork and digital illustration. She aims to decolonize the design process, bringing traditional Indigenous knowledge into her artistic practice to highlight the importance of our present day relationship with the land.
Image: Mairi Brascoupé (Anishinābeg/Canadian/British, b.1992), Chickadees and Flowers, 2019, risograph print on paper, design inspired by an original birch bark biting by the artist. Courtesy of the Artist