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Joan Kauppi, Collage Artist
Shaawan Francis Keahna,
Cross-disciplinary Artist & Musician

Artist Reception Saturday,  2 – 4pm March 18, 2023
Exhibit March 6 – May 20, 2023

Aanikewaajimowinan gaa-oshkiminwaabajichigaadegin – The connecting of stories; things old brought to new is an idea that is translated by two new and emerging artists Joan Kauppi and Shaawan Francis Keahna. Converging across generations, gender, and media these artists bring their observations about identity and current culture into dynamic visual metaphors.  Using humor, question, and poignancy, they challenge the viewer to think more deeply about the world they are part of.

Aanikoosijigaade pronounced

Special Statement from the Curator, Karen Goulet

Welcome to Aanikoosijigaade – ‘It Is Linked’. We are excited to introduce the work of two very talented Ojibwe artists, Joan Kauppi and Shawaan Francis Keahna whose creative voices have intersected at just the right time. Assemblage is very old and very contemporary. From vintage imagery to electronic sounds, we are invited to new ways of thinking. The authenticity of voice is the most critical element of any exhibit we bring into the Miikanan space. The unscripted harmony of these two artists work reinforces the authenticity of who they are as Anishinaabe creative souls.

Joan Kauppi – This is Joan’s first exhibit. It is always special when someone debuts in such a grand manner. Joan and I met in work related circumstances. I knew right away that Joan had clear perception and quick wit. She was a creative person hiding in an administrative world. We were kindred spirits that appreciated each other. Joan would share her creative craft experiments. I was like fun, sweet, cool, etc. Then she began to collage, and I was “hoolay” that’s it. Her sly humor has come to life in the work she is creating. The clever commentaries are endless. We are honored to be the first gallery to share her work. We appreciate what is here and look forward to what is next. I am so very proud of you Joan. We love you.

Shaawan Francis Keanha is an amazing trans-genius bird on a branch who has managed to navigate back to the homelands in Bemidji at a serendipitous time. We were looking for an artist whose work could mesh with Joan’s, not an easy task. At the first heavy snow, I was called by something mysterious to get out of my cave and go listen to alternative music at BSU’s American Indian Center. When I arrived Francis’s work was playing. It was a music video like I had not seen before. It was melancholic, smooth, funky, and very intense. My immediate thought – I need to know who this artist is. In learning that Francis was that little kid I saw at ceremony sitting under a blanket with head bent and focused on their drawing was special to me. The courage of youth that allows one to express freely and openly is refreshing and healing for those of us needing to heal. Francis has come back to this home at just the right time, adding a distinct voice to the collective change we are experiencing in this region, in this place where we will always belong.

Artist Bio Joan Kauppi

Joan KauppiI became an artist by happenstance or perhaps having the heart of an artist manifested the ability or maybe opportunity to call myself one. I am an Anishinaabe woman, mother, grandmother, auntie, great-auntie, employee and my best friend is a dog. I am also a Split Feather; an Anishinaabe adoptee from the 60’s. The Split Feather and Artist labels should merge flawlessly but they are like oil and water; imposter syndrome is the clear winner.

Throughout my six decades I have experimented in many art forms and while I loved those, they didn’t keep my attention. Collage is different. There is the transformation of merging images and the image stories change. I love putting pieces together from different decades, sizes, photographs, illustrations, paintings, postcards and old worn out papers. This is a new beginning, a new story, a new place of acceptance that was self-created.

The isolation of the pandemic afforded me time to watch and read about multiple art forms and I had to try my hand. June 2023 will be two years since this journey began and hopefully will be around for many years in the future.

Image Gallery
Click any image to begin slideshow

Region 2 LogoThis activity is made possible, in part, by a Region 2 Arts Council Individual Artist Grant with funding from the McKnight Foundation.

Artist Bio Shaawan Francis Keahna

Shaawan Francis KeahnaShaawan Francis Keahna is a cross-disciplinary artist and musician. His comics have been published in A Howl by Native Realities, Butter Saint by YBI Studios, and the Asian Cyborg and Other Othered Bodies by Ellie Hyojung Lee. His words can be found in R.I.S.E. Indigenous, the Vassar Review’s “Fact, Fiction, and Fabrication,” and the Indigenous LGBT Sci Fi anthology, Love Beyond Body, Space and Time. He performs with his father as Billy Jackass and by himself as Bogo La$ik. He is a transient twenty-something who currently resides in Northern Minnesota.

Documentary Screening April 1, 2023

In conjunction with this exhibit, Watermark presents a screening of the short documentary “A Place on the Edge of Breath” to be shown at Rail River Folk School in Bemidji, MN on Saturday April 1 at 7pm.

Discussion to follow with producers Shaawan Francis Keahna and Ava Aodha.

A Place on the Edge of Breath poster image

View other film shorts by Keahna, currently on display at Watermark:
Unstable Ground →
This #@c%king House →
(open in Vimeo)

work by Shaawan Francis Keahna

This exhibit was made possible in part by the Blandin Foundation and the McKnight Foundation.

Blandin Foundation Logo
McKnightFoundation Logo