Jessie Buchanan is a painter currently living and working in Guelph. Originally from Caledon, Ontario, Jessie was born to a proud Ojibwe mother and a Scottish-Irish father. Her mother instilled a love for their heritage, but Jessie began to truly connect with her culture when she moved north of Sault Ste. Marie to study at Algoma University.
There, she began to take classes on First Nations history and immerse herself in the culture and strong indigenous community. Since the age of 13, Jessie has been painting and further exploring her culture, which naturally began to inform her artwork.
Recently, Jessie completed her Masters equivalency in Art Therapy. Her thesis was inspired by the role that art played in articulating her identity as she developed as an artist and a member of an indigenous community. Her work focused on art therapy as a healing tool in aboriginal communities and contexts. Jessie feels that art is a tool for exploring your cultural identity regardless of your heritage.
Jessie’s paintings present an openness to the viewer by working to strike a balance between reviving tradition and creating new cultural forms, without taking away from the expression of her lived experience in the artwork. She notes a struggle to articulate herself as a mix-heritage aboriginal woman, walking the line between being informed by the indigenous context and experiencing her culture in a uniquely personal way.
Currently working on several projects, Jessie is preparing a new series of works that explore Guelph and Elora, which will be exhibited in the Elora Chamber of Commerce this October. She has recently begun accepting commissions on an ongoing basis, donating a portion of the proceeds to the nonprofit organization Art for Aid, which sends art supplies to First Nations youth and artists in isolated communities. Jessie also has an ongoing exhibition of work at Agawa Bay Visitor Centre at Lake Superior, a place of great importance for her.
Jessie explains that a strong connection to nature and place, her urban environment, and the people around her have influenced her work, saying that she feels grounded by her community. She explained that the community in Guelph has been extremely open and welcoming since she first arrived, both in the creative and indigenous communities. Jessie expresses hope that indigenous and nonindigenous people can look at her work and feel a desire to express themselves and begin conversations through art.