Manuel Axel Strain

Multidisciplinary Artist

Manuel Axel Strain is a non-binary 2-Spirit artist with Musqueam/Simpcw/Inkumupulux ancestry, based in stolen, sacred and ancestral homelands and waters of the Katzie/Kwantlen peoples. Although they have attended Emily Carr University of Art + Design they prioritize Indigenous epistemologies through the embodied knowledge of their mother, father, siblings, cousins, aunties, uncles, nieces, nephews, grandparents, and ancestors. Creating artwork in dialogue, collaboration, and reference with their kin/relatives, their lived experience becomes a source of agency that resonates through their work with performance, space, painting, sculpture, photography, video, sound and installation. Their artworks display a strong autobiographical brace, tackling such subjects as ancestral and community ties, Indigeneity, labour, resource extraction, gender, Indigenous medicine, and land. Their work has been seen in the Capture Photography Festival, the Richmond Art Gallery, Surrey Art Gallery, and other places across Turtle Island. Recent works confront and undermine realities and imaginaries of colonialism to offer a space that exists beyond that matrix of power.

They have guest lectured at the Vancouver Community College, where they actively participated in the Indigenous Art Symposium “Indigenizing Higher Education.” Some of their most meaningful community projects include “My Blood Can’t Feel the Land” with Gallery Gachet “Resistance and Resurgence,” a 2-Spirit exhibition at Interurban Art Gallery, “Destigmatization and Harm Reduction” at the Musqueam Cultural Pavilion, “The Land Can’t Hear Your Voices,” created during a residency as the Maple Ridge Artist in Residence. Working in programming at Gallery Gachet they helped co-curate the Annual Oppenheimer Park Show through which they centered the artists of Camp KT and DTES residents, while partnering with Vines Art festival to create a publication. Through Gachet in collaboration with The Capilano Review, they are currently coordinating a community-led art project centering the creative processes of two-spirit, trans, and gender non-conforming artists as well as workshops for residents of supportive housing in the Downtown Eastside. They also currently serve as a board member at VIVO Media Arts.