SHARIFAH MARSDEN: A multifaceted Anishinaabe artist from the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation, Ontario, Sharifah Marsden draws from her knowledge of the Woodlands Style of Art, Traditional Beadwork and Weaving, creating unique works of acrylic paintings, beadwork and engraved jewelry.
Since early childhood, Sharifah has been directed toward a life of art and culture. She draws from her Ojibway roots and knowledge of Woodlands art to create unique works that include everything from acrylic paintings to beadwork to engraving.
In 2009, Sharifah graduated from Vancouver's Northwest Coast Jewellery Arts program under established Haida/Kwakwaka'wakw artist Dan Wallace.
In 2010, Sharifah worked with artists Richard Shorty and Jerry Whitehead, among others, to complete Western Canada’s largest mural along on the outer wall of the Orwell Hotel located at 456 East Hastings in Vancouver.
In 2014, she graduated from two years of formal training in the European goldsmithing tradition at the Vancouver Metal Arts School under the instruction of Gerold Mueller. At the Vancouver Metal Arts School she learned hollow form design, complex soldering techniques, and stone setting. In April of 2015, Sharifah had her first solo exhibition at Lattimer Gallery entitled Sharifah Marsden - Miigwetch. It featured jewellery pieces created during her time at the Vancouver Metal Arts School, as well as a number of paintings.
In 2020, Sharifah had her second solo show titled Anishinaabe Motherhood at Vancouver's C3 Creative Cultural Collaborations and currently is exhibited in a number of galleries.
Artist’s Statement – Sharifah Marsden
My name is Sharifah Marsden and I am Anishinaabe (Ojibway) artist from the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation, Ontario. I have a strong respect for traditional approaches to artwork and culture and I am known for my versatility in applications to artistic works. I received a Certificate for completing the Northwest Coast Jewellery Arts Program at the Native Education College in 2009 and a diploma in Jewellery and Object Design from the Vancouver Metal Arts School in 2015.
My large extended family and I live and work in B.C. - although we are frequent visitors to Mnjikaning First Nation and Scugog Island First Nation. My Aunt (Dr. Rasunah Marsden) is a First Nations Elder for the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation and her cousin (Lorraine McRae) is an Elder and Councilor for the Mnjikaning First Nations. I've been traditionally trained in Beadwork, leather work and pow wow regalia since 1990. I have been learning how to paint woodlands style paintings since 1989 from my mother, Laura Marsden, and have been painting for the last 20 years and have been involved in numerous public art projects over these years.
Looking back on my life and career, many things stand out. I come from a large family of eightchildren and I am the eldest of five daughters. My early years were in a time of living in low income family housing projects in the city, we didn’t have a lot, but we had our sisterhood. My mother taught us at a young age how to do beadwork and she introduced us to Indigenous Elders that also lived in the city who taught traditional crafts, songs, dances and ceremonies.
One of my fondest memories was of my mother sitting at the kitchen table painting in the late evenings, when the house was quiet and the little ones were sleeping. This is where I first learned how to paint and I have been in love with painting ever since. Later, I attended Langara College’s Fine Arts program for two years. My mother told me to always incorporate my culture into all of my projects, so that that my style would develop throughout all forms of training. Another of my big inspirations is pow wow dancing, I danced jingle dress, and many of my friends and relatives were dancers too. Capturing my imagination still is the colorful beadwork, with geometric and floral designs, and the flow of feathers, fringes, and ribbons.
My involvement in large scale public projects began in 2010. With my mentorship for the largest Aboriginal mural in western Canada, the 7600 square foot Through the Eye of the Raven in 2010. Since then I have attained an extensive knowledge of all aspects of murals and especially enjoy collaborative efforts with other Indigenous Artists (Jerry Whitehead and Cory Bulpitt) in the work of creating other murals: the “Honoring Our Women” Mural 2015 at the Native Education College, the “Healing Blanket” Mural 2017 in the Downtown East Side of Vancouver as a memorial for those who we have lost due to opioid overdose.
Through community-engaged work, I enjoy passing on my skills and experience to others. I also enjoy meeting other artists and encouraging the different styles, and engaging in the dance of collaboration is an uplifting and energizing experience. I enjoy the challenge of learning and incorporating a variety of ideas to find the group’s commonalities and the values that brings the vision together.
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