Craig Commanda: REAL/UNREAL

28 May - 25 June 2022


Craig Commanda – mokadjigé

"Craig Commanda’s beaded work sits comfortably in the palm of the hand.  This comfort is important for the artist because as he makes his beaded pieces; he is thinking about the beadwork created by his ancestors. Whether made from natural materials like shell, seeds and bone or glass European seed beads. He sees the work he is creating as a form of communication backward and forwards through time and as a source of strength that speaks to the adaptability and survival of the Anishinaabeg. 


Commanda is a multidisciplinary artist from the Algonquin nation at Kitigan Zibi. In the past ten years he has developed an oeuvre of film, poetry, music, sound composition and beadwork.  He began beading in 2019 in response to artist Nalakwsis’s social media challenge, Bead This in Your Style (2019-2021) and credits Nico Williams as an influential teacher who taught him flat Peyote triangles. From there Craig branched out to the geometric bead world developing an appreciation for the Cellini architectural beading style. He has since incorporated these geometrical-architectural methods into his work and is making a style of his own. 


He believes his bead work combines customary techniques with a contemporary sensibility. This bringing together runs through his materials and his practice. Each beaded object is unique, organic, colourful, and textured. Commanda creates the work by combining coloured beads, using anywhere up to thirty colours with textures coming from the many different sizes and types of beads (seed, delica, polished, drop-shaped, twisted/cut hex). And in his adjacent film practice, the video poems bring the natural and the lived urban environment into together and into relation with his beading practice. This is especially evident in a video such as Mokadjige in which the  beaded object, seen in minute detail, echo the images and sounds of his world.


For Commanda these are all forms of communication. The video, the poetry and the beadwork express his worldview and signal how he is bringing his worlds together. In doing so, he is practicing mokadjigé or creating a visual dialogue to continue his conversation for the ancestors, the present, and future Anishinaabeg. " - Lori Beavis, May 2022