Cover Image for First Nations Artist Kait Matthews on Tarot and Truth & Reconciliation

First Nations Artist Kait Matthews on Tarot and Truth & Reconciliation

Avneet Takhar

4 min read

In honour of Truth & Reconciliation month, we’re excited to feature former actress and First Nations artist Kait Matthews who gives us the inside scoop on her creative journey.

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And back to what our wonderful artist! Kait Matthews is of Ojibwe / Potowatomi heritage, and was brought up in the bustling city of Toronto, Ontario. With a love for the arts from an early age, she studied theatre but soon after decided to pick up the paintbrush in pursuit of honing her skills in the arts & illustration world. Not only changing careers- but also countries, moving to sunny San Diego, California with the support of her status card and Jay Treaty rights, she began expanding her creative endeavours and learning more about her family history.

In candid conversation with Matthews amidst working on an oracle deck (featuring Indigenous legends!) she opens up about her artistic vision – and the innovative path in getting there.

Tell us about how it all started with your art, Kait!

Years ago, after considering studies in illustration or theatre in Canada , I chose the latter after which I pursued work as an actor. I moved stateside to continue my studies. I worked sporadically in theatre, film and television until I realized I wasn’t enjoying the journey anymore. I went back to school and graduated, summa cum laude (the highest distinction achievement) with a Fine Art degree from the Laguna College of Art and Design, Laguna Beach, California.

Your works of art come in many beautiful mediums. Is this multi-faceted approach something you’ve always envisioned as an artist?

Initially I worked with oil, acrylic and mixed media. However, with the advent of Photoshop and the digital age, I currently paint digitally which allows my art to be presented in a variety of different mediums and products (canvases, tote bags, phone covers, journals, t-shirts!) with the hope that more people will be able to enjoy my work, and to also make it more affordable.

What does your Ojibway and Potawatomi identity mean to you?

As a child of the Sixties Scoop, I never knew much about my heritage. I searched for my natural mother in my twenties. I was introduced to a whole new family, and culture of which I am so happy to have found and be a part of.

I am also a proud member of Chippewas of Rama. The Jay Treaty and my status card allows me to work and live in the United States. I would never have been able to be stateside otherwise.

Was there a reason for moving out to Cali’, U.S (besides the weather)?!

I lived in Toronto for many years, and yes, the weather was definitely calling to me. 😊

And do you find any differences with the artist scene when comparing Toronto and San Diego?

I live in a small town that doesn’t have a large art community so I can’t compare the differences to big cities that have thriving art districts. Any place that honours the art world is a good place to be regardless.

What does Truth & Reconciliation look like from your perspective?

My mother was a residential school survivor. She has shared stories with me.

Any new and exciting things on the horizon for you that we should look out for, Kait?

I am the illustrator of the Clarity Tarot Deck, published by RedFeather Publishing late last year. Another illustration project is the Flowerwise Oracle deck, which will be released in early 2024 by RedFeather. Currently, I am creating illustrations for an oracle deck featuring the wisdom of Indigenous female warriors, heroines, goddesses, and archetypes through rarely found First Peoples legends.

Check out Kait Matthews’ incredible art on her website and follow her work @kaitmatthewsart.