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A Sandbox Dream: Sandbox Magazine

February 9, 2011

The art of printed magazines is dead! With the invention of eReaders and iPads, paper books and magazines are destined to fill the history of our electronic databases. That’s what they’ve been saying right?

Well, two Winnipeg gay boys are proving that statement to be nothing but a myth. If you live in Winnipeg, you’ve probably already heard of the relatively new Sandbox Magazine. What started as a far-away dream for Braden Alexander and Jeffrey Vallis became reality in 2009. Sandbox Magazine recently hit the one-year in production mark and to celebrate they published a 104-page anniversary issue.

In the interest of full-disclosure, I should state that both Braden and Jeff are very good friends of mine. Braden is my best friend actually, and he’s currently off on a 10-month vacation around the world while Jeff is holding down the Sandbox fort (with the help of a few wonderful ladies of course).

You’ve probably seen online articles and videos talking about the death of the publishing industry and the death of the printed magazine. I reject that and so did Braden and Jeff. People are textile beings, we need to feel the wonderful texture of paper between our fingers while we flip through the pages of a book or magazine. It adds to the experience of reading. Of course there’s a place for digital media, blogs, and online news-magazines. But there will always be a place for printed content in our world, I just couldn’t live without it.

With only a year of experience under their belt Sandbox Magazine is becoming more established by the day. You can now find Sandbox Magazine across the Canadian Prairies (Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba) as well as throughout Ontario. Check out the full list of distribution points here! Next time you visit one of those locations definitely pick it up. For only $4.95 it’ll become one of your cheapest and most rewarding addictions. Their next issue is slated to come out in March or April and it’s already booked in my calendar.

And when you do pick up your Winter 2011 issue, flip to page 15. Page 14 and 15 is the hot stuff section by Andrea Collins. Jonathon Wayne Coasters were featured alongside some other wicked local design lines including davidstea and norwegian wood. And if you like free shit, go sign-up to become a member of Sandbox (it’s free), you’ll get access to the issue archive and be entered to win a set of my coasters and stuff from some of the other featured lines.

And if you’re looking for something to do this weekend in Winnipeg, check-out THE (SANDBOX) BIRTHDAY PARTY: Twelve Sassy Issues, One Big Party on Friday, February 11 starting at 9:00 pm at Mystique Night Club.


Book Burial – Art School Application Project 2

February 6, 2011

My second portfolio piece is a more recent creation. For those of you visiting the blog for the first time, you should check out my etsy shop here. I make and sell coasters using vintage books and atlases that I rescue from the dusty shelves of thrift, antique and old book stores. During the coaster making process I create some waste product. The book covers, book spines and scraps of paper from cutting out the coaster circles are leftover for me to use. I recycle the paper scraps that are too small to use for any other projects and I’m still looking for new projects to use the book covers in.

Over the past couple months I have compiled a good collection of book spines and decided to try out a new project with them. The Book Burial was born. Check it out below:

I glued the book spines in an interlocking brick layering pattern on a stretched canvas. This project was another one of those projects that took me quite a while to complete.

Darcy (my boyfriend) spotted the project in my studio one day and immediately claimed it to be his. This was well before it was completed and after some negotiation we agreed that it would be my one-year anniversary gift to him. I came home after my weekend class yesterday to find that the Book Burial was missing. Darcy had swiped it from my apartment while I was gone. We don’t celebrate our one-year for another week, so this act of treason has officially earned him a new and rather unpleasant nickname. He’s already hung it over his bed and posted it online for all his twitter followers to see.

Well, I guess I can’t be that mad right? He loved it enough to commit a criminal offense and hung it on his wall immediately when he got home.

Happy weekend,

Jonny Sopotiuk

Application to leave Winnipeg. Signed, Sealed and Delivered.

February 1, 2011

For those of you who haven’t already heard the news, I am officially applying to leave Winnipeg. Yes, you heard me right, I’m gone. So good-bye to the mosquitos and the cold long winters. But before you start planning that celebration party you’ll need to wait a bit. So hit pause on the Ding Dong the Wicked Witch is Dead song you just started playing in the background. It’s going to take a few months for the final news to roll in.

Why have I applied to leave Winnipeg you ask? Well I’ve put in an application to study at Emily Carr University of Art and Design. Yes, it’s another education switch in my very long student career. I started out wanting to go into business (in 2004 I actually applied to study at the business school at UBC). That idea quickly got shot down when I looked at the tuition costs (I seem to recall it was around $10,000 a year at the time). I was stuck and wasn’t sure what I wanted to do at that point, I couldn’t afford the school costs and wanted to get away. I decided to take two years off and I tried an unsuccessful across Canada trip through the program called Katimavik. I dropped out after 2 weeks living in a small town in Quebec. The place we were shacked up in was totally haunted, no joke. I’ll tell you about it another time. I was also super homesick and missing my family and friends. That point in my life just wasn’t the right time to go away.

After two years of working part-time dead-end jobs and getting involved in community organizing I decided to enroll at the University of Manitoba. The University of Winnipeg didn’t offer a Social Work program and that was what I had set my focus on. That plan also didn’t pan out and I ended up enrolling in two intro courses in Native Studies and the Labour Studies program (that I now work as a Teaching Assistant for). That was my new path. I got a little sidetracked and took a 2 year break from full-time studies. I ran and was subsequently elected as the President of UMSU for 2008-2009 and was elected to serve a term as Manitoba Chairperson for the Canadian Federation of Students from 2009-2010. If you’re counting it’s over five years later now and I’m just about finished my Bachelor of Arts (BA) with a Major in Labour Studies and Minor in Native Studies (I prefer Indigenous Studies).

That brings us, or me for that matter, to now. After some recent soul-searching I decided that I wanted to take a real shot at pursuing my creative abilities full-time. I’ve been researching schools to study at for the past year, but my eyes have always been set on Vancouver and Granville Island (where Emily Carr is located). My high school art teacher, Mrs Murray (picture to the right) was a mentor and more than that she was a friend to me during high school. She passed away a couple of years ago and I think I speak for most of her students when I say I miss her dearly. (Note: That is me pictured, aged 17, with Mrs Murray. I think I scored a 72 on a gay meter of 1 to 10 at the time. How embarrassing). Mrs Murray was a fantastic teacher, she knew when to push her students and knew how to light that creative spark. She hounded me for over two years to apply to study at Emily Carr, I guess she saw talent and creativity in me that I couldn’t see at the time. It has taken me a long time to find that in myself and to gain the confidence I didn’t know was always there. So I’m ready to finally take that leap. It’s done (in the form of a 10 question “tell me about yourself” and 15 piece portfolio). My application is in!

Over my next few posts, I’m going to share some of my portfolio submissions, including a brand new series that I’ve been working on over the past two months.

This first piece (pictured below) is of a clay pot I made by hand (not on a pottery wheel) back in high school. The piece is bronze glazed and the outside texture was also done by hand using the ends of various sized paintbrushes. It had to be painted/glazed three times and was fired in the kiln multiple times. In total it took me a month to complete and I probably spent over 40 hours on it alone. It was featured in a couple local art shows at the time and it is by far one of my favourite pieces that I have ever completed. I gave it to my Mom as a gift and she now keeps it displayed on a shelf my parents room.

Check out a few more images of the piece behind the More link below.

Read more…

A note about Egypt

January 31, 2011

Image via Leil-Zahra Mortada’s Facebook Album “Women of Egypt”

After seeing the Tunisian revolution unfold and hearing many observers’ predictions of a domino effect of public uprisings throughout the Arabic world, as inspired as I was, I remained sceptical of whether this would actually happen. There were a few relatively calm protests in Libya and Algeria (not to mention many immolations in several other countries), but it wasn’t until what is now happening in Egypt and in Yemen that I’ve become a believer.

In fact I’ve been reading up on the Egyptian protests, not only since any kind of mass protest and activist-driven-empowering-of-the-public-will interests me enormously, but I also have a friend who will be doing an internship in Cairo with the Red Cross starting in April. There is, I suppose, a tiny personal connection to all this and I hope things manage to return to normal as soon as possible (as naïve as that may sound) for his sake!

One thing that certainly is not helping the development of change in Egypt is the stance taken by many western countries. Egypt has been presided by the same man, Hosni Mubarak, for the past 30 years. It’s a dictatorship, plain and simple. In Egypt, any hint of rare democracy releases a strong stench of corruption. The one thing Mubarak has going for him, is that he has been friendly to the west. He’s considered an “ally” and leaders in this part of the world are showing a lot of restraint in encouraging the protests, some actively supporting Mubarak. In fact, several Republicans in the USA have openly urged the government to “stand with embattled President Moubarak” . On our side of the border, foreign minister Lawrence Canon said that Canada’s position is that Mubarak should “go forward and put democratic reforms in place” but he stopped short of saying that Mubarak should step down. France, England and Germany issued a joint statement essentially saying the exact same thing. In my mind, this is an outrageously hypocritical position for Canada, the USA and the European Union to take. We’re currently fighting a war in Afghanistan under the basis of restoring democracy and when organic uprisings stemming from the popular will of the people occur, our leaders should openly say that it is time Mubarak go.

The main fear our governments have is that if the revolution succeeds in removing Mubarak, an extreme Islamic option would be the only one left. To this I would lead people to this great article that notes out of 80% of elections in Muslim countries, Islamic parties get less than 20% of the vote. In a majority of the countries, they receive less than 10%. Additionally, as Mark Mackinnon from the Globe and Mail tweeted earlier this morning, “the U.S. backed dictators of the Arab Middle East contributed more than anyone to the rise of radical Islamism.”

Frankly, it’s just none of our business to decide who leads Egypt. It is however our business when said leader starts abusing his powers and represses the people whom he is supposed to serve. So, if the people of Egypt want a new leader they should get that chance in a fair, just and democratic election.



New Lavender Rhino Blog Regular Contributor – Patrick Oystryk

January 30, 2011

As I mentioned in my first post of the year, I’ve opened up the blog so that it can become a collective blogging effort. I’m exciting to announce that our first regular contributor has signed on. Please welcome Patrick Oystryk to the team!

Hello Lavender Rhino fans! My name is Patrick and I must start off by saying that I am very excited to be part of a collective blogging effort and I hope to contribute some excellent content that will inspire, inform and occasionally make you question. I hope that through the comments section and other bloggers’ posts, my own ideas will be challenged as well. These kind of dynamic exchanges are so important in life, in order to grow.

I recently graduated with a bachelor degree in Environmental Design at the University of Manitoba and I am currently working towards a Master’s degree in Urbanism, and more specifically Landscape and Environmental Assessment, at l’Université de Bordeaux 3 in Bordeaux, France. I am also a gymnast and I am competing for a gymnastics club in Bordeaux.

I love design, trees, sports and everything in between!

You can catch me on twitter: @Padeeo
You can catch me on facebook: Pat Oh


Indigenous Art and Appropriation

January 29, 2011

I recently got into a discussion with my friend David regarding traditional indigenous art. The debate was around when (if ever) it was appropriate for people from non-indigenous culture or background to participate in or practice indigenous art forms. Was it okay if an established artist, member of the community or Elder invited you to learn with them? Is it okay if you practiced the art for pleasure and did it only cross the line if you used those cultural practices for profit? Or is any kind of indigenous art practice by white non-indigenous populations an ongoing form of colonization and appropriation?

It was an interesting conversation and it really left me with more questions than answers. Now I should clarify that both David and I are not indigenous, we both identify as allies to the struggle of indigenous populations but we do not intend to speak on behalf of those communities. Our discussions were and are merely that, they were a discussion about our personal explorations of the world of art.

Back in 2004 in my high school art class I attempted a large indigenous painting (originating from the Haida Nation from the area now known as British Columbia, Canada) that includes the heads of a wolf, buffalo, whale and bird. For as long as I can remember I have always had a strong appreciation for indigenous culture and art. I was encouraged by my teacher (who wasn’t indigenous to my knowledge) to explore the piece and I slowly started to work away at it. But from the first moment I picked up my brush I felt that something about it just wasn’t right. I didn’t know how to articulate exactly why it didn’t feel right or what made me uncomfortable with it, but needless to say I never completed the piece. I can only offer the excuse that at the time I had no analysis of the ongoing effects of colonization and what I had been taught in high school about indigenous/world history wasn’t exactly true.

That half-completed painting (pictured to the right) now sits somewhere in my parent’s basement, a half completed relic of my ignorant past.

After my conversation with David I went home and did a search on the subject. The search didn’t uncover much, either the discourse on the subject is quite sparse or I was using the wrong search terms. I did uncover an essay written by Lauren Scheiwe called The Cultural Appropriation of Indigenous Art, Music and Spirituality. The full text can be read behind the link if you’re interested.

I posted that essay on both mine and David’s facebook page and it generated quite a bit of discussion. One of David’s facebook friends, Lori Mainville, an Ojibway Mother and Grandmother, Treaty 3 member and indigenous to the land now known as Canada, read the essay and posted her own thoughts in a note on the subject. Lori invited me to participate in that discussion and with her permission I am posting her note below.

Response to ‘The Cultural Appropriate on Indigenous Art, Music and Spirituality’, by Lauren Scheiwe 2009.

Article link:

The article by Lauren Scheiwe, ‘The Cultural Appropriation of Indigenous Art, Music and Spirituality’ (dated 2009) was interesting to read. However it seems rife with opinion and does not take into account provisions made by Indigenous collectives as to how Indigenous Intellectual Property Rights are protected, other than observation for its time. What the author of the article writes is certainly telling of what mainstream seeks to understand on this issue.

I must say I do not speak for all First Nations people of this beautiful land they now call Canada. It would be comparable to someone from Europe speaking for all Europeans on such matters in such context, in First Nations circles this is just not commonly done from what I understand and know of generalizations. However I will attempt to share what I do know about efforts First Nations people in Canada have collectively made to protect cultural integrity where such matters are concerned.  Will also share further on as to why it is important to note those protectorates from a personal point of view as a First Nations person and grandmother.

In 1980, a group of well known Elders from all over North America came together to address and protect the spiritual aspect of First Nations ways from cultural exploitation. Part and parcel of most of our traditional music and art is of a spiritual context and has sacred spiritual connect to tradition. It is not only a telling of a people’s story but also a sacred account of that story, which involves collective healing, knowledge and identity. I will not go into further detail of how this is important to First Nations traditional context as I myself have been trained not to put into written word something that is culturally private and sanctioned only by the group it belongs to.

The gathering I am speaking to occurred in 1980 at Northern Cheyenne Nation, Two Moons Camp Rosebud Creek, Montana was called Resolution of the 5th Annual Meeting of Tradition Elders Circle. At that time 11 Elders created a Declaration calling for the protection of sacred items and for the cease of exploitation of sacred ways. They put four questions to those who were in suspect of exploiting sacred items and ways. Those four questions are; What Nation does the person represent? What is their Clan and Society? Who instructed them and where did they learn? What is their home address?

It was with the 1980 resolve of this group of well versed Elders that this issue was a growing concern in terms of the exploitation of culture. The Elders understood that all nations needed healing and knew that the sacred ways could not be misused as it may cause harm to those non First Nations who did not understand the full context of such and weren’t properly trained. It is written within their declaration that, ‘We concern ourselves only with those people who use spiritual ceremonies with non-Indian people for profit. There are many things to be shared with the Four Colors of humanity in our common destiny as one with our Mother the Earth. It is this sharing that must be considered with great care by the Elders and the medicine people who carry the Sacred Trusts, so that no harm may come to people through ignorance and misuse of these powerful forces.’ Online source:

Our national political advocate group here in Canada, Assembly of First Nations (AFN) also understands the context of this convention held by Elders of numerous nations. This traditional understanding has been since time before contact, and has also most recently been implemented within the AFN national resolution process the same. In July of 2010, AFN has promoted ongoing development in this in the passing of an AFN Resolution no. 36/2010, which is titled Support for an International Knowledge and Intellectual Property Rights Regime. This resolution was passed in ongoing collaboration with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) of the United Nations. This is a collective world effort to protect Indigenous traditional knowledge, genetic resources and folklore. The protectorate work in progress also includes, ‘governing access, ownership and transfers of rights over indigenous peoples’ songs, stories, legends, traditional knowledge, medicines and use of genetic resources.’  Online source: Indigenous Intellectual Property Rights, Resolution no. 36, 2010 AFN Annual General Assembly, July 20 – 22, 2010, Winnipeg, Manitoba. AFN Online:

In addition, as Canada has most recently as of November 12, 2010 endorsed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, whereby Article 11 in the Declaration states,

‘1. Indigenous peoples have the right to practise and revitalize their cultural traditions and customs. This includes the right to maintain, protect and develop the past, present and future manifestations of their cultures, such as archaeological and historical sites, artefacts, designs, ceremonies, technologies and visual and performing arts and literature.

2. States shall provide redress through effective mechanisms, which may include restitution, developed in conjunction with indigenous peoples, with respect to their cultural, intellectual, religious and spiritual property taken without their free, prior and informed consent or in violation of their laws, traditions and customs.’

There are more declarations/resolutions of the same within traditional circles as well as the contemporary. From what I have understood throughout my own education as a First Nations person living in a contemporary world is that our ways have always been afforded protection since the beginning of time. At present those protectorates are in our treaties, which have yet to be introduced into mainstream education prior to post secondary institutions. It is within the Canadian Constitution of 1982 in Section 35 as well as within tribal groups with independent nation status. I have heard since I was young that we have never given up our autonomy and we do fully understand that Canada is running to catch up on the real history of our people. Our history has been hidden from all, including our own as was mentioned and well cited from the era of Residential School.

As a First Nations mother and grandmother I am concerned with a few issues on this topic. I feel I must point out a few things. Firstly, Non First Nations people need to understand that our history prior to contact and after is complete to this day and is ongoing in its revelations as we attempt to educate not only ourselves but others as well. It would be a respectful and a most welcomed telling of Canadian history to include what the Indian Act has served to do to our people, as with the ongoing concepts of the White Paper of 1969, which to this day encourages multiculturalism and ultimately enfranchisement of our inherent rights. We have never signed on to any of that. Why would we? We know who we are and assert our right to protect what we have. Those expressions of culture are protected in treaties, Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution of 1982 and so forth. In time it is my hope that our history, the real history is taught in mainstream education from K to 12. Only then the possibility exists more greatly of respectful mutual understanding as the article such as the one Scheiwe proposes will likely occur. There is no other way to show that kind of respect, any other way is a further demonstration of colonization. We as First Nations peoples are the holders of Indigenous Intellectual Property Rights by virtue of being Indigenous to this land and are keepers to that knowledge pre contact and there after. No amount of ‘entitlement’ thinking, whether selective or unconscious or sources cited other than those we sanction will differ my opinion and resolve as a First Nations person and grandmother. They say that one of the last aspects of colonization is taking of our ways and trying to teach us how to be First Nations/Indigenous peoples, as we have countless testimony to this. It is ludicrous in my mind to try and teach another how to be who they are within their cultural context. I would not fathom the idea of doing such acts. I would not venture to tell another of another culture ‘how to be’ who they are no matter what knowledge I understand of them.

It was right on the mark in the beginning of Scheiwe’s article when she quoted, ‘Cultural Appropriation can be said to occur when members of one culture take the cultural practices of another as their own, or as if the right of possession should not be questioned or contested (Hart, 1997:138).’ Reads somewhat like a version of ‘terra nullius’. If people are not educated there will always be hidden intent to exploit at some level and/or be entitled to define what they think they see and act upon capturing it. Further to Scheiwe’s article, I agree with her parting words, ‘In conclusion, Indigenous people and their culture have long been under attack by the Western world whether it has been intentional or unintentional, this needs to be recognised before indigenous culture can be adapted into mainstream Western culture. Whilst not all indigenous people find the concept of their culture being appropriated by others, particularly western culture, offensive, it needs to be acknowledged that many are offended by this. These discrepancies need to be discussed and negotiated. Finally, the world has so much to gain from indigenous cultures. However, indigenous peoples should hold control of how their cultures are appropriated and adopted in amongst other cultures.’ Yes, in full agreement there. We as Indigenous people need to be afforded proper acknowledgement and consultation, anything less would be a further demonstration of colonization…pure and simple in my mind.

I hope this made sense…again, it was a good article…telling of what some in mainstream attempt to understand and possibly resolve. Let the respect of mutual dialogue and shared education continue within consultation processes set out by First Nations people as it pertains to cultural expression and Indigenous Intellectual Property Rights.

With Much Respect,

L. Mainville, Ojibway Mother and Grandmother, Treaty 3 Member, Indigenous to the land they now call Canada.

As a visual artist I should note that I would welcome the opportunity to study with and learn from the experts of any and all art practices. The same statement applies to indigenous art. I would absolutely welcome the opportunity to learn about the culture and art if I were invited into a First Nations, Inuit, Métis or indigenous community.

But unless that invitation is made, I strongly believe that I do not have a moral or ethical right to take from those cultural art practices. To take from something that is not yours to begin with is stealing and completely ignorant of the history of colonization and oppression whose effects still plague our society today.

Jonny Sopotiuk

Hi Sexy. The Best Button Ever Made.

January 26, 2011

Possibly the best button ever made (in the history of the world).

Oh sorry... I thought you were someone else. It has a couple of battle scars, but it’s still absolutely hilarious. Where would you even wear something like this?