Carrie Allison is an emerging Indigenous mixed-race visual artist who explores concepts of identity, resurgence, resistance, decolonization, re/conciliation, and memory. Through engaging in feminism, environmentalism, anti-racism and mixed-race theory Allison aims to frame her work using these as lens for developing a decolonized lens.
Allison’s grandmother was a survivor of residential school. The residential school system stole so much from her grandmother and her family. Her grandmother grew up without her culture and became ashamed and distant from her family. Allison’s mother and her were a perpetuating part of that cycle. Intergenerational cultural loss is one of the many lasting impacts of residential schools and a theme that she explores in her work. In working through these difficult histories Allison has been trying to develop an understanding of how that cycle has impacted her identity. As she is still struggling to define her own identity, she uses botany as a metaphor to express her thoughts and feelings about colonial trauma but also indigenous resilience. There are connections between the study of botanicals and the study of cultures around the world in that the colonial research and collecting practices that advanced academic disciplines such as Anthropology (the study of otherness) also informed botany and geology. Allison sees similarities between the ways in which the environment (land, water, and plants) struggles to thrive to the ways in which global Indigenous cultures struggle to carve out their own place in society. Allison’s paintings and drawings highlight nature’s continual battle for survival and they are metaphors for the way western society has overtaken or rather colonized First Nations’ way of life.