August 9, 2017

Bite Sizes: Tanis Worme

Throughout the Summer Institute, we'll be bringing you Bite Sizes, which is sort of an episodic mini studio visit where we get to know bits about what the participants are up to and a bit about themselves. In this episode, we speak with Nehiyaw artist and student Tanis Worme.

The majority of what Worme makes is done through painting, drawing, sculptural installation and tattooing traditional designs. She is dedicated to creating for her people. Worme’s family and close community is an immediate access point for her when it comes to what she creates. She is compelled to create and share her stories as a way to empower her younger relatives: “I want them to grow up knowing that it is possible for them to achieve excellence but more importantly that their stories give me strength.” Above all, Worme’s motivation behind anything she creates is to push forward the continuity of her culture along with the intricacies of her and her community’s current realities.

Coming into the Institute stirred by Walter Scott’s Wendy graphic novels, Worme has been interested in exploring through her own personal stories and family histories:

“I have a family story that’s been translated and passed along through oral history and my mother has put that through writing and we were just discussing how different it has been. For a long time, those stories were passed along in Cree and in order to keep those stories a live, it has had to be told in another language therefore changing the story. Now, I have a story that’s in English and not only has it changed from a spoken form, it is now in written."

Currently, Worme says she’s been looking at the written form and thinking about how to make it into an illustrative story like that of a graphic novel. It’s been stressful to think about that she tells me, and something that she will probably continue to work on it before she can produce anything physical, she considers. She has been seeing the Wendy Book Club workshops as a means of thinking about what goes into the making of a graphic novel and how to get a narrative across. Anything she ends up making will just be another stepping stone toward materializing the illustrative novel she’s interested in working on.

I asked Worme why she thinks is its important for her to be retelling this story, she describes: “It is part of my own personal history and it is important to keep that alive and share it with the next generation in a compelling and accessible way. Everything that I’ve done, I’ve always thought about family. Everything I do and where it comes from and where you get it from is always being passed along.”

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