The first time I went to the Yukon, I didn’t make it to the Chilkoot Trail due to engine troubles and injuries, instead I spent a lot of my time camping along the side of the Dempster Highway, hiding from the tundra bugs in my ‘78 camperized Chevy van reading copies of the Whole Lost Moose Catalogue, The Colourful Five Percent by Yukon artist Jim Robb, and the best of Here Are the News by Gwich’in writer Edith Josie about life in Old Crow, Yukon. These books were full of stories of muskrat trapping, the squatters of Whiskey Flats, the 70s back-to-the-landers, recipes for bannock and moose meat pie and directions on how to build a log skyscraper. I was interested in the utopian dreams that brought the homesteaders to the North and the pragmatism that allowed the locals and some of the newcomers to survive. I was especially interested in the myths that outsiders hear of the North and the mythmaking that Northerner’s create.
In August 2013 I will be hiking the Chilkoot Trail for two weeks as part of the Chilkoot Trail Artist Residency Program (more on the residency and past residencies on Parks Canada Chilkoot Trail). Afterwards I will be creating a multilayered graphic story that critically explores the myths and stories told about the North and the Chilkoot Trail and I will be posting these stories online and as a published piece and artist print or book. Graphic stories or comics are a unique storytelling medium in that they have the potential to tell stories that can transcend static images and text and can portray complex stories from multiple viewpoints. I want to use this medium to explore how the stories we hear about a place assemble our expectations and how the dreams and myths of outsiders and visitors over the past 200 years have affected residents and indigenous people of the Yukon. I will also be facilitating two comic jam workshops for kids, youth and families in Whitehorse and Skagway where we will be creating a collaborative comic/map of the trail.
I am interested in the interplay between images and texts, in adapting stories to different medias, and exploring how narratives themselves cannot be separated from the medium and format. Thematically my work explores the interactions and sometimes the conflict between human and natural environments and the relationships between structural power and individual stories. I am inspired by natural and human histories, folk songs, films, and literature. I am also interested in printmaking and various electronic and handmade means of creating, printing and publishing stories.
Kara Sievewright is a writer and artist who creates graphic stories, prints, zines, posters, websites, and books. She has published writing, illustrations and graphic stories in carte blanche, World War Three Illustrated, Broken Pencil, Certain Days Calendar and filling Station. She has exhibited her comics and books in Poland, Chicago, Paris, Toronto, and New York and at many zine and comic festivals, including the Toronto Comic Arts Festival and Expozine. She has a MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia and is working on a graphic novel. You can see more of her work at www.makerofnets.ca.