Two-Spirit Couple share their love of art
- EFN Staff | May 05, 2022
Paulete Poitras and Cheryl Prosper are using art to not only channel their creativity, but to express themselves as a two-spirit couple.
Recently the pair collaborated on artwork, but it may not be the last time.
“The beaded lanyard, the work itself really spoke to me,” said Prosper. “As an artist, I was able to interpret what Wascana meant to me. The beaded lanyard that represented the man-made lake called Wascana felt like I was beading water. (The) collaboration with my wife felt wholesome and surreal.”
Their work was part of the Sakewewak Artists Collective’s Storytellers Festival’s annual art exhibit in Regina last month. Prosper, who is from the One Arrow First Nation, says it was an unexpected opportunity, but one that was important to both of them.
“Being two-spirit has many stereotypes to overcome because society is complex,” she said. “These complexities are sometimes difficult to navigate. My wife and I work together to build a life that we feel comfortable with. We are a team and a lot of that is communication. Safety in our lives is the number one concern.” Poitras, from the Muscowpetung First Nation, is a visual artist with a mixed medium.
“I do all sorts of creating and my guilty pleasure would have to be beading and sewing,” she said.
Poitras says the role of Indigenous-two-spirit artists is one she and her wife take seriously.
“Art gives us the opportunity to address these complex issues in society,” she said. “It’s a platform to express that two-spirit artists are important, and their work needs to be valued.” To be part of a very public month-long display was an opportunity the couple couldn’t pass up.
“The art exhibition is to have Indigenous artists’ work be seen (and) this visual assurance helps validate the importance of the work,” she said.
Poitras says Prosper has been a real blessing because together they find strength in one another.
“It’s been a really emotional experience,” she said. Poitras has been very public about her relationship and embraced the role of being a two-spirit ambassador is something she’s been able to do because of the support she gets from Prosper.
“I believe Indigenous people have a long way to go in the healing process,” she said. “There’s been this real breakdown in understanding the two-spirit community, the queer (and) Indigi-queer community, and I feel these voices are important in art.” Poitras says this lack of understanding can be traced back to residential schools.
It’s a sentiment shared by Prosper.
“Too many Indigenous women are targeted, never mind adding two-spirit to it all,” she said.
However the couple is determined to continue to live their lives to the fullest.
“We work together to make our lives comfortable and content,” said Prosper. “We live sober lives. We work hard for everything we have. We support one another. We build this life not only for ourselves but for our children and grandchildren.”
Poitras said Prosper helps her excel as an artist and their latest collaboration is a prime example.
“It’s been a really amazing journey,” she said.