portrait of Skawennati's second life avatar named xox, sporting a pink camouflage shirt and high pigtails
Skawennati’s avatar, xox

Skawennati Joins the Rhizome Board

Please join us in welcoming Skawennati to Rhizome’s Board of Directors! 

Based in Montreal, Skawennati's artistic practice questions our relationships with technology and highlights Indigenous people in the future. An early adopter of cyberspace as both a location and a medium, she creates machinimas—movies made in virtual environments—as well as still images, sculpture, fashion, and performative experiences. 

Skawennati writes,

I have been interested in Rhizome since the beginning. I hope to bring to the organization my experience and perspective as a contemporary multimedia artist, a non-profit organizer, a peace activist, a cyberpunk avatar and an urban Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) woman.

The chair of Rhizome’s Board, Greg Pass, notes that Skawennati’s membership of the Board builds on her long commitment to the digital art field. He observes, “Skawennati is a true believer in digital art, and alongside her own practice, has fostered collectives and institutions that have supported the involvement of Indigenous artists in digital culture in transformative ways. We are honored to welcome her to the Board.”

Last December, Rhizome presented CyberPowWow at the New Museum, which was a restaging of one of the first major online exhibitions, launched by the Nation to Nation Collective, of which Skawennati was a founding member. CyberPowWow presented works by Indigenous artists–sometimes in dialogue with works by settler artists–in a multi-user, graphical chat environment, which was available online as well as in community centers across North America.

Wa’tkwanonhwerá:ton’, Skawennati! Welcome!

Skawennati’s works have been presented in Europe, Oceania, Asia and across North America and are included in the collections of the National Gallery of Canada and the Thoma Foundation, among others. She is honored to have received a 2022 Hewlett 50 Arts Commissions Grant; a 2020 Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship; a Visiting Artist Fellowship at the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library and an Honorary Doctorate from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. 

Over the years, Skawennati has been active in various communities. In the 1980s she joined the nuclear-disarmament peace group, SAGE (Students Against Global Extermination), and the Quebec Native Women’s Association. In the 1990s she co-founded Nation to Nation, a First Nations artist collective, while working in and with various Indigenous organizations and artist-run centres, including the Native Friendship Centre of Montreal and Oboro. In 2005, she co-founded Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace (AbTeC), a research-creation network based at Concordia University whose projects include the Skins workshops on Aboriginal Storytelling and Digital Media as well as the Initiative for Indigenous Futures. Throughout most of the teens, she volunteered extensively for her children’s elementary school, where she also initiated an Indigenous Awareness programme. In 2019, she co-founded centre d’art daphne, Montreal’s first Indigenous artist-run centre.

Originally from Kahnawà:ke Mohawk Territory, Skawennati belongs to the Turtle clan. She holds a BFA from Concordia University in Montreal, where she resides. She is represented by ELLEPHANT.

Learn more about Rhizome and our Board of Directors