I am a multidisciplinary Wolastoqikyik/Canadian artist & renaissance woman, working primarily in the male dominated industries of animation, comics, illustration, and also fine art. I live in Sunny Corner, New Brunswick, in a small house, in the woods along the lil’ Nor’West Miramichi River, where I also get to work and run my independent studio-Moxy Fox. I have been an artist since my mother caught me “defacing” my doll crib with permanent marker at the age of 2, (I distinctly remember thinking it was an artistic improvement)! But I have made my living doing art for the past 20 years, working in TV animation, teaching, illustrating indigenous themed comics and have produced my first independent film The Importance of Dreaming in 2017.
I love so many different disciplines of art, and basically I just want to do them all! When I was very young my parents told me I could be anything I wanted! WOW! Imagine all the possibilities. I weighed the options and knew that afternoon, “Artist” looked very fun! So I practiced art, A LOT! But, when it was time to “choose my career path”, my parents changed the story-“You’ve heard of a starving artist, right? Well you’ll be poor if you choose artist, and you like money right?” Yes, YES! I did like money! I didn’t want to be poor and starving! So, that afternoon, I came up with SCIENTIST! They make a lot of money and it seemed less boring than anything else. I thought maybe I could be a Marine Biologist and work at Sea World (praise Hera that never came to pass!), but ended up failing Calculus and Physics several times, until I just told my parents, I tried it your way, now, I’m going to try my way! My aunt Gail told me about an animation program, and since animation was on TV, there was the answer to art + money! I was in the 2nd class to graduate from that animation program, and the only female in the class. I’ve gone on to do many things, and I still believe the original story my parents told me – You can be anything you want! I think there is something key here in this, and that is the “you want” part. YOU have to WANT it! Not what someone else wants for you, what YOU want for yourself.
This past year I have been promoting my first animated short film entitled The Importance of Dreaming, which was made possible with support from the Canada Council for the Arts and artsnb. The film has won several awards, and a particular honor was being invited to Stuttgart, Germany at the Indianer Inuit North American Film Festival 2018, where it won the UNICEF’s Best Children’s Film Award, and I was invited to speak at the festival & with German Elementary School Teachers about my film and First Nation stories & education.
The film’s story is very meaningful to me as it is an adaptation of the story of my mother and father falling in love in the 1970’s, when the Canadian Indian Act suppressed the rights of any woman marrying a non-native man. She had to leave the reserve, leave her family and home, and would not have been allowed to be buried on reserve after her death. (non-Native women marrying Native men gained status rights.) The film’s allegory is told as the forbidden love between an old white Owl and a young Red Fox.
For me the experience of making this film was extremely therapeutic. My father had passed away and this film is also about where I envision his mind was when it was not with us, as he had Alzheimer’s. The idea for me is comforting, and logical to know that his mind was somewhere, and maybe somewhere magical. I also wanted to explore the idea of legends. Where do legends come from? Well this story I have been told all my life, is magic, and I believe “legend” worthy. So I get to be the one who passes it on, and in this form, I have no doubt it will be passed on, and retold again and again.
I started out working in animation for studios, so working on other people’s ideas and bringing them to life. I learned so much, and that has helped me to be the artist I am today, but now more than ever I want to explore and utilize my skills for my own ideas! This used to be the “objective” on my resume (back in time when that was the first thing you put on your resume, your objective) mine was -“To work in an environment where I can utilize and improve my artistic skills” (Ugh, resumes are the worst, amirite?). Well I have utilized my artistic skills for the benefit of others, and improved my skills, so time to move on! Now I want to utilize my skills to bring my ideas to fruition and I feel ready and confident because of reaching my past objective.
One of my businesses has just launched an Aboriginal Storytelling App called “Nitap” available in the Google Play and the iTunes App stores. I worked on this as a part of the Ni’gweg Collective-a not for profit organization I have built with fellow Mi’kmaq artist Phyllis Grant & game guru Kirsten Tomilson. I am very excited because the game play starts in NB, and also two of the stories I animated are told by my mother Deborah Audibert of Tobique First Nation, and I get to share these stories with the world!
Right now I am exploring very specific themes in my work, that of reconciliation, and combining First Nations Culture with mainstream technology and entertainment, aspiring to make the stories/language and ideas of Aboriginal Culture as part of modern Canada.
I also have a very specific message for girls and women-that you can do and be ANYTHING you want to do and be! I hope that through my actions I can act as a role model to First Nations girls and women and all girls and women who may not know that the possibilities are endless! I want to tell stories that empower girls and women, stories of success, overcoming obstacles no matter the consequences, and becoming role models themselves!
The most rewarding aspect of my practice has been the ability to write my own way of life. I work from home now, and set my own schedule. I have ideas, and I get to bring them to life. I still do commission and client work of course, but now I get to choose which projects speak to me, and I have the ability to say no, without worry that I might starve! I have an art project which is an ongoing record of my daily runs: #runadayproject. This is a bit of a brain twister, but my runs are where I do the majority of my thinking, and therefore are THE most important thing about my art practice. This time is sometimes hard to get to, but it is where I figure out problems, decide my next step, and also just look at nature and become inspired by her. Now ALSO, photographing my runs is another time based art project I am creating, I have been doing it for 4 years now, and have 4 video documents of the years. So it is the best part of my practice, while also multitasking as an art piece in and of itself! I enjoy efficiency.
For me, New Brunswick has been a really important part of my life. I was raised here, moved away to become an adult, and then returned to be closer to my family after my Father passed away. I missed my family of course, but New Brunswick has this beauty, that is unlike other provinces, a few specifics are the rocks, the waterfalls, fiddleheads and the rainbow of colors yellow to red – it’s not like this in the rest of the Maritimes. Maybe I just have the feeling of closeness, but it has a quiet, stoic nature, that has inspired me, my films, my game app, and so much of my art – The Quiet Wild!
Tara Audibert is a Wolastoqey artist, film maker, and game developer with 20yrs experience in animation, games and comics. Tara aspires to combine traditional First Nations art and storytelling with contemporary design and digital mediums. She started Moxy Fox Studio to create her first independent animated film “The Importance of Dreaming”, released in 2017. She is a partner in the not for profit Ni’gweg Collective, dedicated to collecting and sharing First Nations stories. The pilot storytelling game app “Nitap” was launched in April 2018.
You can follow Tara’s work on her website.
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