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EducationConcordia University
Known forNew Media
AwardsimagineNATIVE Best New Media (2009) Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellow (2011)

Skawennati is a Mohawk multimedia artist, best known for her online works as well as Machinima that explore contemporary Indigenous cultures, and what indigenous life might look like in futures inspired by science fiction.[1][2]

Skawennati is the co-founder of Nation to Nation and Co-Director with Jason Edward Lewis of Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace, AbTeC, a research network of artists and academics who investigate and create Indigenous virtual environments.[3] AbTeC, whose goal is to ensure Indigenous presence in the web pages, online environments, video games and virtual worlds that comprise cyberspace, is based at the Milieux Institute for Arts, Culture and Technology at Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec.[3][4][5] She serves as the 2019 Indigenous Knowledge Holder at McGill University.[6]

Early life and education[edit]

Skawennati, Skawennati Tricia Fragnito, was born in Kahnawake Mohawk reserve in Quebec, home to a sizeable concentration of Mohawk artists and curators.[7] She grew up in the suburb of Châteauguay. In 1992, she earned a BFA in Design Arts and in 1995, a Graduate Diploma of Institutional Administration (Arts Specialization) at Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec.[8] Her first position after graduation was with the artist-run Oboro Gallery in Montreal.[9]


Through New Media forms, Skawennati addresses history, the future, and change, particularly as they relate to First Nations and Indigenous cultures. In an interview for the exhibition Changing Hands: Art Without Reservation 3 at Museum of Arts and Design, New York,[10] Skawennati states "that there are plenty images of us in the past. Often in those images often we are silent, we are unnamed and I wanted to show something us else. I wanted us to be able to imagine ourselves in the future.” [11]

Skawennati is one of the first recipients of the First People's Curatorial Residency grant, established in 1997 by the Canada Council for the Arts. In 2001, she created Imagining Indians in the 25th Century for Storybook Story curated by Luanne Martineau at the Art Gallery of Calgary.[12]


Skawennati's first major online project was the CyberPowWow,[13] an online gathering that occurred several times between 1997 and 2004. It was usually hosted through galleries such as the Walter Phillips Gallery and arts institutions such as the Banff Centre.[4] The central thrust of CyberPowerWow was to create an aboriginal territory in cyberspace.[9] CyberPowWow — a chat room functioning as an interactive digital art gallery, allowing people to form communities both online and in real life—provided "a means for indigenous artists and storytellers to secure footing in the digital urban."[14] Skawennati worked with indigenous artists and writers who customized the space with images, scripts, and indigenous avatars.[15]

In 2011, she was awarded an Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship which recognized her as one of "the best and most relevant native artists."[16]


Her Machinima series TimeTraveller™ has episodes on the death of Mohawk saint Kateri Tekakwitha, the Dakota Sioux Uprising of 1862, the 1990 Oka Crisis, and other watershed events in Indigenous history. This multiplatform work "resist[s] pan-Indian and neo-luddite stereotypes of First Nations peoples."[17] Furthermore, it seeks to highlight the "misinterpretation and abuse of Indigenous art and people."[18]

She Falls for Ages[edit]

Part of the 2017 solo exhibitionTomorrow People, She Falls for Ages retells a Haudenosaunee creation story using sci-fi, the virtual world and a feminist lens. Her version included a futuristic aesthetic and bright colours, created using the Second Life program as a medium.[19][20]


  • On Desire. B3 Biennial of the Moving Image, Frankfurt, Germany (2017)
  • Owerà:ke Non Aié:nahna | Filling in the Blank Spaces. Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery, Concordia University, Montreal (2017)[21]
  • Teiakwanahstahsontéhrha’ | We Extend the Rafters. VOX, Centre de l'image contemporaine, Montreal (2017)[22]
  • Skawennati: For the Ages. V Tape, Toronto (2017)[23]
  • Tomorrow People. Oboro, Montreal (2017)[24]
  • Now? Now!. Biennale of the Americas, Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver, Colorado (2015)
  • Memories of the Future. SAW Gallery, Ottawa (2015)[25]
  • Avant Canada. Brock University (2014)[26]
  • TimeTraveller™. Niagara Artists Centre (2014)[27]
  • Ghost Dance: Resistance. Activism. Art. Ryerson Image Centre, Toronto (2013)
  • We Are Here! Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship. Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, New York (2012)
  • Close Encounters: The Next 500 Years. Plug In Institute for Contemporary Art, Winnipeg, MB (2011)[28]
  • Rashid & Rosetta 2. HTMlles Festival, Montreal (2010)
  • Rashid & Rosetta. Co-presented by Oboro and Studio XX, Montreal (2009)[29]
  • Storybook Story. Art Gallery of Calgary (2001)

Curatorial Work[edit]

  • Owerà:ke Non Aié:nahne / Combler les espaces vides / Filling in the Blank Spaces. Leonard and Bina Ellen Art Gallery, Concordia University, Montreal (2017).[30]


She is a multiple award winner, particularly for her project TimeTraveller™, a nine episode Machinima series that used science fiction to examine First Nations histories.[31] In 2015 she represented Canada at the Biennial of the Americas.[32]

Skawennati was a 2011 Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellow, and a Best New Media winner at ImagineNATIVE in 2009 for TimeTraveller™[33] and in 2013 with the AbTeC collective for Skahiòn:hati – Rise of the Kanien’kenhá:ka Legends.[4]


  1. ^ Network, Government of Canada, Canadian Heritage, Canadian Heritage Information. "Artists in Canada". Retrieved 2018-10-27.
  2. ^ "Skawennati". Retrieved 2018-10-27.
  3. ^ a b "Skawennati: for the ages". imagineNATIVE Film & Media Arts Festival. Retrieved 2018-03-12.
  4. ^ a b c Garlow, Nahnda. "Artist Profile: Skawennati – Kahnawake Mohawk". Two Row Times. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
  5. ^ "Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace". Retrieved 2019-02-15.
  6. ^ "Indigenous Knowledge Holder Series 2019". Indigenous Studies Program. Retrieved 2019-03-23.
  7. ^ Simpson, Audra (2014). Mohawk Interruptus: Political Life across the Borders of Settler States. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
  8. ^ Taubman, Ellen; McFadden, David Revere, eds. (2012). Changing Hands: Art Without Reservation 3. New York: Museum of Art and Design. p. 168.
  9. ^ a b "Skawennati takes aboriginal storytelling into cyberspace". Georgia Straight Vancouver's News & Entertainment Weekly. 2016-08-24. Retrieved 2017-03-18.
  10. ^ MARZO, CINDI Di. "A Redefining Moment in the History of Native American Art, Studio International". Studio International - Visual Arts, Design and Architecture.
  11. ^ McMichael Canadian Art Collection (2013-04-16), Skawennati: Changing Hands: Art Without Reservation 3 - Museum of Arts and Design, New York, retrieved 2018-03-12
  12. ^ "rob mclennan's blog". Retrieved 2017-03-18.
  13. ^
  14. ^ Gaertner, David (2015). ""Indigenous in Cyberspace: CyberPowWow, God's Lake Narrows, and the Contours of Online Indigenous Territory"". American Indian Culture and Research Journal. 39 (4): 56.
  15. ^ Lewis, Jason (Summer 2005). ""Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace"". Cultural Survival Quarterly. 29 (2). Retrieved 5 July 2016.
  16. ^ Leizens, Tish (26 May 2012). "Must See: NMAI in New York's 'We Are Here! The Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship' Exhibit - Indian Country Media Network". Retrieved 2017-03-18.
  17. ^ LaPensee, Elizabeth (2013). Ng, Jenna (ed.). Understanding Machinima: Essays on Filmmaking in Virtual Worlds. A&C Black. p. 207. ISBN 9781441149626.
  18. ^ Mcnutt and Holland (2011). We Are Here: The Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship 2011. Washington: University of Washington. pp. backmatter. ISBN 9780295991795.
  19. ^ Huard, Adrienne (2017). "Reviews". Canadian Art. p. 122.
  20. ^ "Tomorrow People | OBORO". Retrieved 2019-02-15.
  21. ^ "OWERÀ:KE NON AIÉ:NAHNE Filling in the Blank Spaces". Retrieved 2018-03-17.
  22. ^ "Skawennati. Teiakwanahstahsontéhrha' | We Extend the Rafters. Children's exhibition". Retrieved 2018-01-18.
  23. ^ "Skawennati: for the ages | Vtape". Retrieved 2018-03-17.
  24. ^ "Tomorrow People | OBORO". Retrieved 2018-01-18.
  25. ^ "Memories of the Future | SAW Video Media Art Centre". Retrieved 2018-03-17.
  26. ^ "Canada's avant-garde set to storm Brock University next week". The Brock News, a news source for Brock University. Retrieved 2016-05-21.
  27. ^ "Niagara Artists Centre | Skawennati: Time Traveller™". Retrieved 2016-05-21.
  28. ^ "Close Encounters: The Next 500 Years | Plug In ICA". Retrieved 2017-09-23.
  29. ^ "Web project launch: Rashid and Rosetta | OBORO". Retrieved 2018-03-17.
  30. ^ "Indigenous digital art — past, present and future". Retrieved 2018-03-12.
  31. ^ Ore, Jonathan. "Machinima art series revisits Oka Crisis, moments in native history". CBC News. CBC. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
  32. ^ "2015 Biennial of the Americas". Biennial of the Americas. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
  33. ^ "ImagineNATIVE". ImagineNATIVE. Retrieved 5 March 2016.

External links[edit]