TRC #60 Call to Action

I was asked to contribute some work to a nationally published magazine. The theme of the issue is to be “respecting Indigenous spiritualities” (in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions Calls to Action #60)

The Call to action is:

60. We call upon leaders of the church parties to the Settlement Agreement and all other faiths, in collaboration with Indigenous spiritual leaders, Survivors, schools of theology, seminaries, and other religious training centres, to develop and teach curriculum for all student clergy, and all clergy and staff who work in Aboriginal communities, on the need to respect Indigenous spirituality in its own right, the history and legacy of residential schools and the roles of the church parties in that system, the history and legacy of religious conflict in Aboriginal families and communities, and the responsibility that churches have to mitigate such conflicts and prevent spiritual violence.


This is a decidedly heavy and intrinsicly important topic for healing in our community if any type of reconcilliation is possible. I chose to go a darkly humourous route. Perhaps I will burn in hell…if there is a hell. My thought behind these works is simple, “to respect is to embrace, adopt, implement, and hold in the highest esteem symbols of the First Nations and Indigenous communities.” I focused on what that would look like visually. What would be a first step? Would it be Metis Beadwork on the Pope’s Mitre? Would it be replacing steeples with Totem poles? Would it be finding a new use for the cross?

The magazine will be out May 19, 2017 I will keep you posted.



Native Lives Manner

I’m very honoured to say that the folks from Native Lives Matter in Minnesota USA have contacted me to request permission to use the above piece of my artwork for their upcoming memorial campaign.

“We are doing a red ribbon memorial campaign for MMIW  Our campaign will consist of hanging ribbons on local bridges during valentine week and will be in conjunction with our annual women’s memorial march we have each year in Minnesota”

Of course I replied with a resounding yes. The fact that we are able to unite across borders for such important work, particularly in this new political atmosphere, gives me hope.  Knowing that we are all standing together, moccs on the ground, demanding to have our voices heard gives me hope.

Through advocacy and activism, we promote healing and empower people to push for social change. Art has power. We have power. We have hope.
If you’d like to know more, please see the Native Lives Matter blog for more information on the upcoming 3rd Annual Women’s Memorial March & Twin Cities Solidarity for MMIW.

Fontaine + Ashcroft Interviews with Clint Roscoe

image Lita Fontaine – The Pagan 1996 – Courtesy of the Winnipeg Art Gallery

A few days ago I was asked to do an interview with a young art student. It isn’t for the press or a media institution, it’s just something that he likes to do. Interview people. He’s a curious guy and this is his jam. He digs it, there’s no angle and to me that’s a good enough reason. On occasion I get these requests and I try to always oblige. Not that I feel I have sage words of advice or wisdom to impart, but often because it forces me to really sit and think about what I am doing as an artist and why. It’s really an opportunity that forces me to step back and look at what I’m doing and where that ever evolving path of creativity is taking me.

Clint did a two part interview. His other subject is Lita Fontaine. Yes, THE Lita Fontaine. Lita is an interdisciplinary artist based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Often, her work explores the role of women in traditional and contemporary Indigenous society. She describes herself as tri-cultural: Lakota, Anishinabe and Metis. Her work is everywhere. She is an extraordinary artist and human being who’s work really speaks to me.

I am quite honoured to share a screen with Lita. Miigwetch Clint Roscoe for putting this together.

Vagina Poetry Art by Arlea Ashcroft 

Vagina Poetry Art by Arlea Ashcroft. It’s a film credit I received.

It’s a real thing. It’s the best damn film credit I’ve ever had. Something to be proud of, write home about, share with the friends and family, be remembered for. It’s fuckin hilarious and I LOVE it.

My buddy/dear friend/ the original love you, miss you, mean it girl,  Johanna Stein, has a comedy show on the CW Seed called JO JO HEAD. She’s shot a shitload of episodes, the above screen grab is from the episode SMILES I DIDN’T MEAN. You can watch the entire episode as well as more of her comedy hilarity here on CW SEED ORIGINALS

When you watch it look closely at the flyer being handed out for the vagina poet. Pause it and turn your phone upside down, or stand on your head and you’ll see my arts. A woman with a shark coming out of her vagina. It’s literally a flashing second of screen time. Not featured, not a closeup, no insert shot, just barely there hanging on the edge of screen. One of my proudest moments ever.

Most of my work these days revolves around women’s and Indigenous issues, otherwise known as, human issues, such as land sovereignty, water rights, MMIW, Treaties and territories of my Indigenous brothers and sisters, and women as kick ass forces of nature. Or I tackle mental health issues involving depression, suicide and grief, which often leads me into or out of my own deep dark places.

I’ve known Jo for, egad, over 20 years. We go way back to a land before cell phones and internet, carrier pigeons still existed. We were in a comedy troupe together. We’ve tossed rubber boobs at each other across dining room tables, Two Princes was our road trip theme song (not proud of that) and we’ve danced together as synchronized swimming tampons.

My work these days is often heavy and dark, searching for the light, which has it’s own truth and beauty, but it’s not ‘fun’. So when Johanna asked if I would let her put my work in her series, I said, ‘Fuck yeah! Absofuckinlutely” (And since we are pros here, we did it by the book legit contract/release and everything all y’all). I love that my buddy included me in her awesome fuckin success. I love that we are still each other’s supporters. I love that she reminds me that laughter is the best medicine. I love that she reminds me I can balance sociopolitical work with humour and light. So thank you Hoj for the best damn film credit ever!!

Vagina Poetry Art by Arlea Ashcroft


LAND, WATER, WARRIORS or ‘holy fuck I have an art show’.

July 29, 2016 I went on a solo road trip. Well me and my dog. We packed up the car and headed out on the highway. No real plan, no real destination. All we knew is that we would head south. I just wanted to drive. To sort my thoughts, have coffee in the car, windows down and camp along the way.  We had nine days to see where the road would take us. Where the wind would blow us.

We stayed off the interstates as much as possible and drove the secondary and tertiary roads. Alone. Not a car in sight. The beautiful landscape unfurling before us, the silky black ribbons of road rising and falling on the gentle curves of horizons. We chased the sun. We stopped along the way. We ran in fields. We stood in the center of the road and decided where to next. Looks like a storm is brewing over there, so lets head over here.

We skirted the cities and bumped into small town America. We drove down south through North Dakota, South Dakota, across to Wyoming up through Montana and back across North Dakota. We fell in love with the land. With the big skies. With the freedom. The unknowing of where you’ll sleep tonight. Everything we needed was in the car. We wanted for nothing.

We unknowingly had begun to follow the the track of our ancestors. The tribal territories that were now reservations. We went through Fort Berthold, Standing Rock, Cheyenne River, Pine Ridge, Crow Agency, and Devils Lake Reservations.  Land so beautiful I fell head over heels in love with it. It felt like home. With a history so twisted and convoluted with wars, broken treaties, and being taken that it broke my heart. I would often pull the car over and sit silently on a lone stretch of highway at the side of the road breathing in the past and dreaming of what was and what could have been.We were only gone 9 days, but it felt like a lifetime. A hundred lifetimes. The ghosts of the imagined past played out the wars, beauty and struggles over top of these important historical tribal lands. The lands of my people.

I remember staring out at Little Bighorn thinking about the battle where thousands of Cheyenne, Arapaho and Sioux people had gathered for Sundance ceremonies and then were attacked. I saw their faces on the land. Heard the sounds, horses running, guns firing, battle cries, The warriors. The Yellowstone River at Pompey’s Pillar where Sacagawea left her ‘husband’ to join the explorer William Clark for three years as his guide. Thinking what a brave woman. What an incredible life. The Mandan village on the banks of the Missouri and the people who were decimated by smallpox, famine. Who now face an even bigger threat from the Dakota Access Pipeline. Will the land that was taken ever be returned? What lives these ghosts and images held and how did they fit together? 

Around August 20th I was asked to showcase some work at a local tea house opening for Sept 1. I thought sure. I have unseen pieces leaning against walls of my house I may as well take them to the light and get them off the floor. That would be easy. Too easy. I’m a person who likes a challenge. I have 10 days and a full time job. Let’s create all new work. Better yet, let’s try something you’ve never done before. Game on.

For four days I experimented. Failure, Failure, Failure. Hmmm. Although when one is making art, one learns that a failure is a lesson in what not to do so you try something else. I wanted to try linocut. I wanted to create a simple language of pictograms and superimpose them on the photos I had taken on my journey. I wanted to put the images of what I had felt and seen in my mind on the horizons and places I had stood.Where my ancestors had stood. I wanted to honour their beauty, their struggle and reconnect the past and present. I wanted to show that the fight to reclaim land continues. That the warriors and protectors of our land and water will not back down.  That the thousands of people, representing hundreds of tribes who are at this very moment banding together at Standing Rock Sioux Nation are still fighting.  I wanted to honour them. I wanted to share what I had learned.

I had a book on lino-cut for beginners and through much trial and error the images began to take shape. I cut, inked, pressed, stamped, cut stencils, sprayed, painted, leafed, tore things up and began again. It was happening. In four days I had seventeen hours of sleep. I was in the zone. It felt like I was being guided, as though I was creating the work with my eyes closed from the inside out, that my hands were thinking out loud. It was peaceful and solitary. There is nothing more divine than finding that creative sweet spot at four AM when the work feels meaningful. When it imbues every cell of your  existence and your ancient history.

And then it was done. It was framed. It was hung. It’s in the shop. I made the deadline. I created the work I wanted. I tried something new. I wasn’t afraid of failure. I told my truth. I shared the truth of others. Is it finished? complete? No. With more time and funds it can be better. But for now I say, Holy fuck, I have an art show.


LAND, WATER, WARRIORS runs until Oct 5, 2016 at the Amsterdam Tea Room located in Winnipeg’s Exchange District, 211 Bannatyne.







Okay I lied. There is a Ryan Gosling Pokemon Prisma SparkPost Meme. I’m throwing all the recent trends in one blog post bucket. I created it just for you. 

But seriously can we talk about The Prisma App. The app that is making everyone an artist. Or at least think they are. 

You download the app, take a photo with your cell and run it through the filter generator that makes your humble crappy picture look artistically inspired. I know I’ve done it. Many times. And I have to say it kinda makes me want to throw away my paint brushes. Why spend all that time painting when you can just Prisma the shit out of a crappy photo in mere seconds?   

Check this shizz out. One photo 12 Prisma filters. And that’s only half of them. 

Published in Prairie Fire magazine

The new issue of prairie fire magazine focuses on women attaining the vote 100 years ago in Manitoba. I was asked to submit a piece of artwork. 

I pondered for a while lit candles, incense put on some Concrete Blonde and Tanya Tagaq and let my mind go. The first image that came to me was this one. She’s watercolour ink and Copic marker on paper. 14″ x17″.

I sent in the piece and then was asked to write about it. Hmmm I don’t often write about my work. I was thinking about women’s rights and all that has transpired in the past 100 years. I ended up composing a rant. A rant about Freeing Our Nipples. It’s a page long it’s literary it’s published. It’s kind of a bummer the image isn’t in colour. But fuck it. Here’s a pic of the piece for you to peruse. 

You can pick up a copy of the magazine at McNally Robinson and other booksellers. 


New Website Update

As you can see my website is in development. I’ll be posting new works, past shows, things I’m working on, and general musings from inside my gold-mind.

Until it is up and fully robustly running, here’s a recent watercolour. It will appear in the 2016 spring issue of Prairie Fire Literary Magazine. The issue revolves around the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote.This piece is call Free The Nipple

ashcroft image1