Thirza Cuthand: Medicine and Magic

Thirza Cuthand: Medicine and Magic


At Vtape, it is our great pleasure to participate in the 2020 imagineNATIVE Artist Spotlight featuring Thirza Cuthand. Our participation takes the form of this catalogue that features an extended conversation between the curator Ariel Smith and the artist, whose ancestry is mixed Plains Cree and Scottish. They discuss the research and background of Thirza’s two-channel imagineNATIVE commissioned work Medicine and Magic, which tells two stories: one of her great, great grandfather Misatimwas, who was healed from a terrible wound by a bear robe; and the other about Isobelle Sinclair, a possible Scottish ancestor who was executed for witchcraft in 1633. As the conversation continues, it becomes clear that these stories are connected not just through actual and possible relation to Thirza herself but also through both colonization and Christianity and their effects on Indigenous peoples and women accused of being witches.

The Artist Spotlight also features a 6-title retrospective of Thirza’s work, spanning 20 years, with the earliest work from 1999, and ending with recent work from 2019: Less Lethal Fetishes lends its name to the retrospective screening, released Thursday October 22, 2020, 10:00amET.

Having distributed Thirza’s work for many years, we see her work as an artist examining gender, body, and identity, while never losing touch with her Indigenous spirit. Her humour and her courage are unparalleled. Many thanks to Niki Little, imagineNATIVE Artistic Director, for her generosity and friendship, and to all the staff and board at imagineNATIVE, our most valued partner.

Lisa Steele, Creative Director Vtape


Image credit: Less Lethal Fetishes, by Thirza Cuthand