Since 1993, Canadian artist Christi Belcourt has been creating visually arresting paintings representative of the floral beadwork of the Métis and First Nation women of Canada. Belcourt herself is of Métis heritage.
The intricate beaded works of her people are feats of exquisite artistry, representing the highest levels of craftsmanship. It is an art form cultivated over hundreds of years and is a source of immense cultural pride. Through her work Belcourt has attempted to “transfer the ‘beadwork’ to canvas, and in so doing, add commentary and expression within the work beyond the purely aesthetic. The plants within my paintings have become metaphors to parallel humanity.”[ii] In Belcourt’s “beadwork,”achieved by a series of small dots, sceneries of flowers and wildlife converge into colorful, magnetic feats of the imagination.
One such artwork “Water Song,” caught the attention of fashion powerhouse Valentino who approached Belcourt to incorporate the painting into their Resort 2016 collection. Belcourt accepted the proposition because it was a collaborative effort between herself and Valentino, not yet another example of blind cultural appropriation by the fashion industry, a controversial issue for years. Belcourt believes Valentino set a precedent that needs to be mirrored by the rest of the industry. Fashion designers “need to begin to work with indigenous artists and designers to have respectful representation in ways that the indigenous artists and designers feel is appropriate,” she recently told BuzzFeed, “It’s not up to non-Indigenous people to decide what is appropriate and what isn’t.”[iii]
The result of the collaboration is, yet again, another stunning collection by Valentino. See the complete collection here.
[i] Lauren Strapagiel, “These Gorgeous Dresses are Based on a Métis Artist’s Work,” http://www.buzzfeed.com/laurenstrapagiel/a-metis-artist-collaborated-with-valentino-on-these-gorgeous?bffbstyle&utm_term=4ldqphh#.knkwEDzM3G.
[ii] “Artist Statement on Floral Work,” http://www.christibelcourt.com.
[iii] Lauren Strapagiel, “These Gorgeous Dresses are Based on a Métis Artist’s Work,” http://www.buzzfeed.com/laurenstrapagiel/a-metis-artist-collaborated-with-valentino-on-these-gorgeous?bffbstyle&utm_term=4ldqphh#.knkwEDzM3G.