Manuel Axel Strain
About the Artwork
Manuel Axel Strain’s work is notable for its collaboration with family – whether accessing handed-down materials, family photographs, or the participation of their loved ones. In this way, Strain powerfully prioritises Indigenous systems of knowledge transfer and intergenerational learning, over and alongside their institutional art training. Skilfully, Strain manages to share these intensely intimate visual anecdotes while still maintaining privacy, encoding details in specific cultural, traditional, and personal references. This new textile work encompasses Strain’s strategies perfectly. Its material intricacy of wood, hand-woven ropes, and bells implies particular memories; the transferred photograph could be taken from a childhood road trip, though the mask-like interventions on the subjects’ faces lend the portrait a dreamlike, even legendary impression.
Fabric, phototransfer, wood, fur, bells
42” x 48"
Courtesy the artist and Unit 17, Vancouver
About Manuel Axel Strain
Manuel Axel Strain (b. 1990) is a 2Spirit artist from the lands and waters of the xʷməθkʷəyəm (Musqueam), Simpcw and Syilx peoples, based in the sacred homelands of their q̓ic̓əy̓ (Katzie) and qʼʷa:n̓ƛʼən̓ (Kwantlen) relatives. Creating artwork in collaboration with and reference to their family, their shared experiences become a source of agency. Their work across multiple mediums envelops subjects in relation with ancestors and community, Indigeneity, labour, resource extraction, gender, Indigenous medicine and life forces. Strain often perceives their work to confront and undermine the imposed realities of colonialism, proposing a new space beyond its oppressive systems of power. Strain was recently featured in the Vancouver Special exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery (2021), longlisted for the 2022 Sobey Award, and was a 2022 recipient of the Portfolio Prize. Strain is represented by Unit 17, Vancouver.