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Artists as Writers

Artist Biography

(still from INDIANacts Conference Panel (30 Nov 2002), all rights reserved by grunt gallery's Ghostkeeper website (part of Activating the Archive ATA project))

MASKEGON-ISKWEW, Ahasiw (1958 - 2006)

Areas of Expertise

Performance, Installation, Education, Indigenous Perspectives, Curation, Spoken Word, Writing


Ahasiw Maskegon-Iskwew was a Cree/French Métis born in McLennan, Alberta in 1958. He graduated in performance art and installation from Emily Carr College of Art and Design, Vancouver, British Columbia in 1985. He was Director, Exhibition and Performance Coordinator, and Board Member for the Pitt Gallery in Vancouver (1988-1990) and worked as Adult Education Instructor for the Native Education Centre in Vancouver teaching Contemporary Native Cultural Studies, College Preparation English, and Native Studies (1990-1991). Maskegon-Iskwew was accepted in the two year Equity Internship Program at the Canada Council for the Arts in Ottawa, where he received training in the Media Arts and Visual Arts Sections, and the Art Bank (1992–1994). Two residencies in the internship also included work with the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College and Circle Vision Arts Corporation in Regina, and the Aboriginal Film and Video Art Alliance at the Banff Centre for the Arts.

He then became Program Coordinator, Acting Executive Director, and Assistant Editor of the Talking Stick First Nations Arts Magazine for Circle Vision Arts Corporation (1994-1995) and went on to develop the position of Production Manager for SOIL Digital Media Production Suite at Neutral Ground Artist-Run Centre (1996-1998). Maskegon-Iskwew also worked as the Web Editor for the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (2000–2004). He was editor of the online Aboriginal arts magazine ConunDrum that premiered in July 2005 produced by Urban Shaman Aboriginal Artist-Run Centre in Winnipeg as well as rapporteur for the online performance art discussion After the Factsproduced by Fado Performance Art in Toronto. 

Another project was the on-line Aboriginal media arts research and creative community development project Drumbeats to Drumbytes that began touring at OBORO in Montreal, February 2005, in the group exhibition Language of Intercession curated by Steve Loft for the Art Gallery of Hamilton in 2003. In May 2005, Maskegon-Iskwew was awarded a two year Aboriginal curatorial residency grant by the Canada Council for the Arts to take up the position of New Media Curator at Urban Shaman Contemporary Aboriginal Art Gallery to pursue his curatorial theme Storm Spirits: The Cultural Ecology of Aboriginal New Media Art

Maskegon-Iskwew was an accomplished writer, editor, performance and spoken word artist, video and visual artist, curator and teacher whose critical writing has been published in Mix and Fuse Magazine and in the anthology The Multiple and Mutable Subject: Postmodern Subjectivity and the Internet (2002), published by the St. Norbert Arts Centre. 

© Above biography from Drumbeats to Drumbytes website and from grunt gallery's Ghostkeeper website

Online Resources

Ghostkeeper, a website by Vancouver's grunt gallery as part of their Activating the Archives project. The website includes biographical information as well as Maskegon-Iskwew's writings, images, and video works/interviews.

View Maskegon-Iskwew at 2002 IndianACTS Conference in panel discussions regarding the violence in making art, children who have lost their histories & ceremonies, and Hollywood and the pedagogy of the oppressed from grunt gallery's archives' INDIANacts website, part of Activating the Archives (image © grunt gallery from Ghostkeeper website, all rights reserved)

Maskegon-Iskwew's Drumbeats to Drumbtyes website with his biographical & bibliographic information and details regarding the Drumbeats to Drumbytes project.

isi-pîkiskwêwin-ayapihkêsîsak "Speaking the Language of Spiders" collaborative project by Maskegon-Iskwew and other artists (original project 1996-2005). The above website is an updated version of the project by Cheryl L'Hirondelle for 2012 exhibition Ghostkeeper, an exhibition by grunt gallery & On Main Gallery 1965.