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Cree Artists Database

List of registered artists and artisans from Eeyou Istchee and surrounding areas.

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Jossée Bernier

Visual Arts:
Paintings | Photography
Performing Arts:
Music | Theatre
Multidisciplinary Arts:
Storytelling | Video | Multimedia
Traditional & Contemporary:
Traditional Knowledge Object

Location: Ouje-Bougoumou


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Short description of your art.

My art is an essential extension of who I am and the way I interpret the world around me. This includes anything from sound, movement, and visual art. Although singing and painting are most dominant, I am drawn to anything that allows me creative control such as graphic design, photography, and even interior design. As an artist I feel it is imperative for me to be transparent with what I am creating and my main goal is to help inspire people to connect with themselves. I often spend countless hours perfecting a project until I can step back from it and know it is at completion. Art continuously teaches me to be patient and to trust in my abilities so I love to challenge myself and step outside of my comfort zone.

Where did you learn your art?

All of my art is self taught. I've always wanted to sing since I was a little girl and although it took me many years to develop my craft - my hard work and dedication eventually began to pay off. I also taught myself to draw at a young age, and then eventually painting. I also learned to play the the piano and guitar by ear, although I still have much to learn on the guitar. Of course, learning anything comes with persistence and dedication and so I always made the time to develop my crafts and ask for help when needed. Photography is also something that I am teaching myself, I've loved exploring and experimenting with it growing up.

Where do you find inspiration for your work?

I find inspiration for my work in many different ways, and it almost always depends on the art I am doing. For instance, most of my painting and photography is inspired by the land of Eeyou Istchee. From the colours and tones, to the sunsets and sheer magnetism of the land - that is what a strive to capture and reflect the most in my work. I am also inspired of other peoples way of interpreting and capturing these as well. For Music, I am inspired by certain life events that have taken place or intense feelings that I've experienced throughout my life. I try to capture that through music. I am also inspired by other artists who remain true to themselves, their sound, and their craft. My friends and family have also always inspired me growing up. Many people in my family are talented in some way or another from drawing, to music, to wood carving, to sewing, and even handy work.

Have you received any formal training?

Although I would like formal training, I have not received any. The artist skills I have developed throughout my life have been self taught. At what would first start off as hobbies quickly turned into passions as I found that art is essential to my well being. Although, I would love to take lessons in vocal/guitar, graphic design, and even classical opera. I am always looking for opportunities to grow, gain more skill, experience, and knowledge that will further my development and artistic talents. Although I am mostly self taught, I have recently participated in a Music Production and Business course in my community that has offered me essential skills and understanding as to what it takes to professionally "succeed" in the urban music industry.

What other art forms do you practice?

I have had the opportunity to study contemporary ballet as a young child. This enabled me to study dance in much more professional environment. Although I no longer pursue dance, the discipline has always stuck with me. In the last few years I also had the opportunity to work for an Indigenous theatre arts summer program with AANMITAAGZIl. Due to the nature of the work, this allowed me to develop essential skills in vocal, movement, and story telling. It also enabled me to gain skills in stage management, set/costume design, and stage performance. Theatre arts is an incredibly intensive field that requires you to be present in all areas of yourself so there is no room for doubt, fear, or insecurity. I was fortunate enough to be able to work alongside with incredibly talented individuals and professionals so although the training was intensive so was the fun. The skills I have gained from that experience will be carried all throughout my life.

Have you ever received any awards or special recognition?

I recently received an award from my community for "Woman in Creative Arts & Music", which I humbly accepted. I have been fortunate enough to have always had my community standing beside me and supporting all of my artist endeavours. There are no words to amount how grateful I am for that. I was also previously nominated for the "Rising Star Award" from the Cree Native Arts and Crafts Association which I did not receive but was honoured to have been nominated for regardless. I have been independently (so to speak), striving towards music for several years now and it was nice to have had that recognized on a regional level. I also previously competed in a French talent competition and won first place for. I was astonished, as I was competing against veteran musicians and vocalists that I was sure would win. I took home a thousand dollars and headlined in the news paper for being the first Cree musician take home first place in the competition.

Do you sell your work? If so, How?

Yes, I sell most of my art work online through social media or word of mouth. I also sell my music services privately meaning most people contact me directly. I mainly sell my paintings to Entities in the community, community members, and friends and family who wish to buy pieces from me. I hope to be able to get some prints made of my work so that my art can reach even further but for now, I am more than happy to send my originals to new homes. I hope to be able to put together an art show in the future that would enable people from all over to see and purchase art work in my home community.

Has your art work ever been mentioned in any media?

Not that I am aware of. Although it was not credited, my photography was in The Nation magazine which I was really proud to see.

Please provide any information on your buyers.

I just recently began selling my artwork, so most buyers are from my community. My local Band Office recently purchased several pieces of my art that will be gifted to outside members through special events, AGA's, and so forth. CNACA also recently purchased a few pieces to showcase my work and potentially gift or sell in the future. I am hoping to be able to sell some pieces to the Aanischaaukamikw Cree Culture Institute Gift Shop in the future so that tourists visiting the community will be able to purchase local art. I have also been able to sing and perform for many different special and formal events, festivals, and conferences both locally and regionally for the past several years. I have had the opportunity to open for both new and upcoming artists as well as veteran musicians within the Cree Nation. I have also been able to sing in surrounding areas such as North Bay, Montreal, and Toronto. I am always willing and eager to be able to share my music so any opportunity to do so is greatly appreciated.

Please provide any other information you would like to mention.

Do not be afraid to speak, but if you are then let your art speak for you - for that is a language almost everyone can understand. Miigwetch CNACA