Designing for Indigenous London Arts
The Indigenous London Arts web space represents a milestone in my personal, professional, and spiritual journey as an Indigenous woman in this space.
By taking a storytelling approach to Indigenous ways of knowing, designing a web space that could grow with the project, and by including fun and whimsical elements to the project, we created an inclusive web space for the Indigenous arts community.
A Storytelling Approach
To raise the voices of the Indigenous community collaboratively, we took the approach to present the educational content through the stories of Indigenous artists.
The London Arts Council had several stories to share through the Building Allyship projects and others. This web space now provides the stories with an open space to be presented and grow while making space for stories to be collected.
Inspired by Deshkan Ziibiing
The design elements that make up the website were selected sensitively and with intention. The design of the project is inspired by Deshkan Ziibiing, Antler River, or as it is known by its colonized term, the Thames River.
The LAC co-hosted an event called ‘The River Talks: A Gathering at Deshkan Ziibiing / Thames River’ in 2018. The event featured Indigenous leaders and artists who asked us to re-imagine, renew, restore, and respect our waterways. I was inspired by this project, and wanted to illustrate the importance of a deep connection to nature throughout the design of this web space.
The blue colour represents water, air, and life. The flowing movement of water is echoed in the way that the website is easily navigated. The spaces that make up the website were designed as living and growing elements. This web space was built to grow as the project grows, just like nature and Deshkan Ziibiing.
The images chosen tell the story autonomy and place through images of traditional and modern Indigenous arts against a backdrop of nature. The notion of existing in this space comes through with the photographed beadwork used in the headers of each page. This artwork was created by Shawn Johnston and Holly Pichette.
Celebrating Life through Art
Art is fun. This web space celebrates Indigenous life and art, and I wanted to include some fun design elements - just to make us smile.
One such fun design element is found in the “Lean More” section at the bottom of each page. The background image is of a letter written to the river, Deshkan Ziibiing, thanking it for giving life to the land. As you scroll down, the words “thank you” appear, creating a small moment of gratitude.
A Spiritual Milestone
The milestone that I reached through working on this project represents deep spiritual healing and the fulfillment of a dream project. I am honoured to have worked on this project with the London Arts Council, with whom I have had a long-standing relationship with throughout my career as a designer and artist.
Through the consultation and creation of this project, I was able to claim my voice as an Indigenous woman and gain confidence to speak through an Indigenous lens - my lens.
I believe in the power of the arts to create real change. Miigwetch to all who have been involved with this project, this work has helped me to move forward on my own path. It is my hope that this project is embraced and continues to grow with the community, becoming a home for sharing stories and raising voices like mine.