March 26 – June 5, 2022

Kahkiyaw kikway (All of everything) (2019–2022) is both an installation of sculptures and wearable artworks by Amy Malbeuf. Created from home-tanned hide, the works are intended to be worn by a spectrum of body types and genders. The garments/sculptures are intended to fit a range of bodies and are not made to a single size.

For Amy, the regional aesthetics of her home territory in northern Alberta are always an influence. Here, hide would be extensively decorated with beads, tufting, quills, and embroidery. The designs reveal their place of origin with boreal flora, animals, and insects from the region. When nuns taught embroidery to local women, these embroidered designs (often flowers) were very quickly incorporated into beadwork—embellishing mitts, jackets, moccasins, and bags—and thus bear traces of colonial history.

In Kahkiyaw kikway, Amy has deliberately left the hides unembellished. “In eliminating the decorative aspects,” she says, “my aim is to highlight the beauty of the hide itself.” Directing attention to the hide reveals its material nature as well as the labour that has gone into its making. Home-tanned hides are held in high regard in Native communities, and hundreds of hours go into their preparation, from stretching the hide and removing the fur to smoking and softening it. Home-tanned hide is markedly different from industrially tanned hide. It is thicker and does not stretch; its smoky smell will linger for years after its tanning, like a trace of its making.

Amy has relocated to Mi’kma’ki territory in Nova Scotia, and this move has been mapped onto each of her sculptures as well as through hanging panels of printed fabric. The imagery on the fabric references elements of the landscape from both her home region and her adopted one, and the outline of each shape is appliqued onto each garment. The shapes are both directional (in that they point to these two places) and generate a constellation overlaying place with the body, with the understanding that each is layered and mutable.

Commissioned by the Toronto Biennial of Art and made possible with the generous support of the RBC Emerging Canadian Artist Program and the Women Leading Initiative.

Audio Didactic: 


Amy Malbeuf (Métis, born in 1987, Rich Lake, Canada, Treaty 6 territory) is a visual artist currently living on unceded Mi’kmaq territory in Terence Bay, Nova Scotia. Amy’s practice explores notions of identity, place, language and ecology through the use of various mediums such as animal hair tufting, installation, performance and tattooing. Malbeuf holds a Master in Visual Art from the University of British Columbia Okanagan, Kelowna.

Exhibition Site

Arsenal Contemporary Art Toronto

45 Ernest Ave
Toronto ON
M6P 3M7