When I think about pasts, presences and futures for belongings held by a museum, I feel stuck. Walking into the First Peoples exhibit at the ROM feels like walking into a tomb, and working in the collections feel like visiting a relative in prison. It is hard to imagine futures in these spaces, but it is necessary. It is necessary that the futures being imagined and created are made by us, and it is necessary to be asking questions about the survival of these belongings beyond institutions, beyond the ROM, beyond my lifetime. There is work to be done.

I see the physical hoods and their materialness as a practice of an embodied worldview. I have had questions about what has been necessary for a belonging that carries so much to survive away from the bodies and intent that are central to its role in the world – and I’ve been considering that while the process of becoming unbodied/incorporeal is heartbreaking, it is also a method of survival for beings and belongings removed from homeland and people. I think reengaging in even a speculative yet interactive bodied space is important to this discussion, and also the hoods’ more-than-human/more-than-corporeal capabilities for imagination and a rich understanding for future thought.

About Megan Feheley

Megan Feheley is a two spirit/non-binary/ililiw (Moose Cree)/settler interdisciplinary artist living and working out of Toronto. They are currently working towards their BFA in Indigenous Visual Culture at OCAD University, and work predominately in sculpture/installation, beadwork, textiles, painting and video. Megan is passionate about resurgent practices, working with materials that connect them to their homeland, and exploring Indigenous and queer futurity.

During their time as co-president of the Indigenous Student Association (ISA) at OCAD University, Megan has been a core organizer of initiatives to support and uplift emerging Indigenous artists, as well as an advocate for equitable education and community centred practices. As part of their work with the ISA, they have also co-curated 3 exhibitions: Arrive:Tewá:ko-Dagoshin-Otiacicoh-Takoshin-BagamaawaniidiwagTerra Incognita, and Flux Refusal.

About the Original Artifact

Woman’s Beaded Peaked Hood, James Bay Cree

About the Process

I began this project with no working knowledge of 3D modelling, and spent every day of Uncover/Recover learning new skills for my final piece. I worked by importing reference images of the hood’s beadwork into Autodesk’s Maya 3D modeling program, creating the shape of the bead, aligning it with the beads in the photograph, and adjusting the attributes of each type of bead accordingly.

I found much of this process much like beading itself: meditative, repetitive, requiring constant revision and problem solving. From the beginning, I wanted the piece to be interactive, and decided to create a 3D environment that would be open to navigate through.