Art show inspired by Indigenous short film opens in Saskatoon

The short film Just Dandy opens with filmmaker Thirza Cuthand walking onto a dimly lit stage with a journal in hand. She's appearing at a meeting amongst Indigenous revolutionaries that her cousin invited her to.

It's a personal story for Cuthand's character: a story about romance with someone who isn't the best when it comes to compatibility, inner-conflict and colonization.

"Her Majesty, the Evil Queen," Cuthand reads from a journal in the scene. "That's her official title but I like her; she seems nice."

The story references the dandelion as an invasive species introduced to North America, Cuthand explained on CBC Radio's Saskatchewan Weekend.

Cuthand said the film was inspired by an old story she had heard about the dandelion's introduction to North America. She used the story as the basis for the film to depict intimacy with the Evil Queen and inner-conflict she has felt with her own roots.

Now working in Toronto, the two-spirited Cuthand returned to Saskatchewan for a new art show in Saskatoon, which is inspired by her film and features her work. The show — also named Just Dandy — opened up at the AKA Artist-Run Gallery Friday night and runs until April 22.

She explained how one of her grandmothers had Scottish ancestry. That, in turn, contributed to Cuthand's light-skinned complexion.

"The inner-conflict has been present most of my life," she said.

Cuthand said she has navigated through that conflict by making films, writing journal entries and talking with other Indigenous people who have a lighter complexion. 

The journal entries have made it into her films, blooming out from an ongoing blog Cuthand has written over the last 12 years, she said. 

"It's kind of been an experiment that just carried [on] throughout my career," she said.

Through revealing some of her own personal details, Cuthand said she thinks it makes people a little more trusting and open to discussing matters such as race and sexuality.

The humour helps the heavier subjects too, she said, as audience members relax and are more open to discussion rather than feeling lectured.