Meet Michelle Sylliboy InterdisciplinaryArtist & Poet
Artist Creator Visionary
A Visual Poetic Journey
Professional Art History
The following is a list of all past professional experiences in the career of Michelle Sylliboy Mi'kmaq Artist. Each role has been unique and has contributed specific elements to their personal and professional development. For references or additional information about anything listed below, get in touch directly.
Since arriving on the art scene in 1994, Michelle Sylliboy an L'nu/ Mi'kmaq Artist was born in Boston, Mass and raised on un-ceded territory in We'koqmaq Cape Breton. Michelle moved back to her territory in 2017 after living and working on un-ceded Coast Salish territory for twenty-seven years. While in Vancouver she learned to capture and intrigue the art community with her Interdisciplinary style of work. She gathers much of her inspiration from personal tales, the environment, and her L'nuk (Mi'kmaq) culture. Her Interdisciplinary art practice embodies some of her own life experiences, which has led her to work with emerging and professional artists from all over Turtle Island. PhD Candidate Michelle is working on her Philosophy of Education Doctorate Degree dissertation where she combined her artistic background and education by writing and creating new art about her Mi'kmaq Komqwejwi'kasikl (Hieroglyphic) living curriculum. Michelle is an assistant professor at STFX University in Antigonish NS. She was recently long listed for the 2022 Sobey Award and a winner of the Arts NS 2021 Indigenous Artist Recognition award and the 2020 Indigenous Voices Award. You can keep track of her projects in the more section above this page. Her current exhibition until September 2022 titled "The whale is Great" and komqwejwi'kasikl photography is showing at the Art Gallery of NS.
Kiskajeyi - I am Ready by Michelle Sylliboy
Book Launch /Komqwejwi'kasikl & Art Exhibition
March 31st, 2019- April 30th 2019
I am proud to announce my first book of Komqwejwi'kasikl poetry titled Kiskajeyi - I AM READY published by Rebel Mountain Press is now available at rebelmountainpress.com. The first book launch occurred March 31, 2019 at Cape Breton Centre for Craft & Design in Sydney, Nova Soctia. My anticipated book is the first Mi'kmaq hieroglyphic poetry book ever to be published. The launch coincides with the Komqwejwi'kasikl Art Exhibition with Alan Syliboy and Loretta Gould. Curated by Lindsay Dobbin and Greg Davies.
All three artists responded to the shared written language through Art.
Kiskajeyi is now available as an ebook available at
Odilo (US libraries)
Baker & Taylor (Libraries only)
Cloud Library by Bibliotheca
Barnes & Noble
Gardners ( UK) TBA
Capilano Review Poetry contributor
Capilano Review poetry title "The Art of Reconciliation" The incredible book is now online.
Unsettled, Group Exhibition
Unsettled video short is a collaboration with cellist Heather Hay.
The Art of Reconciliation, Lead Artist Vancouver Public Library.
In collaboration with Storyteller in Residence Renae Morriseau. The Art of Reconciliation evening
brought together local Vancouver Artists to respond to the 94 recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Process. By asking the tough question. What does reconciliation mean to you as an artist?
Yellow Medicine Review
Spring edition 2018
The R-E-S-P-E-C-T Issue
Guest edited by Janet Marie Rogers with cover art by Israel Francisco Haros Lopez, this issue of Yellow Medicine Review contains work by Alice Azure, Devin James Baldwin, Lois Beardslee, Marjorie Beaucage, Irkar Beljaars, Tawahum Justin Bige, Chelsea Hicks Bryan, Vivian Mary Carroll, Christina M. Castro, Irene Edwards, Tammy Melody Gomez, Tai Amy Grauman, David Groulx, Geary Hobson, Jeanette Iskat, Alex Jacobs, M. Carmen Lane, Josh Languedoc, Israel Francisco Haros Lopez, Denise Low, Tiffany Midge, Rosetta Peters, Willa Powless, Vivian Faith Prescott, Barbara Robidoux, Janet Marie Rogers, Omar Sakr, Loralee Sepsey, Michelle Sylliboy, Jeff Tanaka, Storme Webber, Darryl Lorenzo Wellington, Thomas Pecore Weso, Logan Mikal White-Mulcare, Tyrone A. Wright, and Brian Wright-McLeod
First American Art Magazine
Interviewed by Matthew Ryan Smith and First Publication of
my Mi'kmaq Hieroglyphic (komqwej'wikasikl) poem
Visual Arts News - Spring 2019: EXPANSE
#callresponse: conversation & action / Review by Kathleen Higgins
Expanse / Editorial by Shannon Webb-Campbell
When Small Things Matter: Ned and Mary Pratt / Feature by Mireille Eagan
Nelson White: Kinship and Reclamation Beyond the Artist Residency / Profile by Kate Lahey
Kym Greeley’s Highway Sightlines / Review by Jennifer McVeigh
The Most Important Thing: Art and the Rural Renewal of Fogo Island / Feature by Jolee Smith
Oracles, Questions & Translation / Q & A with Olivia Boudreau & Penelope Smart
Liminal Fleshold: A Net for Wonder & Oneness / Review by Gillian Dykeman
Michelle Sylliboy’s Ancient Messages / Mi’kmaq Komqwejwi’kasikl (hieroglyphic) Poetry
Kent Monkman’s Shimmering Resilience / Profile by Shannon Webb-Campbell
A long lost memory
is never silent
it transforms the soul
to the future the way a river
rages through the veins
of what is felt and
what is needed
Unearthing the Mi'kmaq teaching philosophy
My teaching philosophy is anchored in the Mi’kmaq philosophy of non-interference: an Indigenous worldview that engages the learner on multiple levels of how one sees and grows with the world. This worldview has served me throughout my existence along with gentle nudges by elders, aunties, uncles and cousins, and an ever-expanding community.
I may sum up the Mi’kmaq philosophy of non-interference as thus: follow the process, pay attention to the process, and allow and support what wants to emerge. This philosophy represents an ultimate statement of respect for Life and Reality. In an age wherein technology-driven rational dominates and massively interferes with reality has taken over First World thinking, the Mi’kmaq way of thinking has been further marginalized. It is my intention to reintroduce and infuse the Mi’kmaq philosophy of non-interference in teaching. Additionally, it is my intention as an indigenous scholar to teach that indigenous worldviews, such as Mi’kmaq’s, are also about understanding the history of land, language, and community, and how they are all interconnected.
We live in an age where critical thinking is often mistaken for judgment. Part of my artistic teaching philosophy is to contest this mistaken notion. I share the following ideas about critical thinking as a trained and practicing artist. These ideas resonate closely with the Mi’kmaq philosophy, as well. Critical thinking is dialogic, which involves co-emergent creativity amongst participant-learners. It allows the artist and viewer to engage in a dialogue that wants to emerge from the moment when creativity wills the artist to create his/her first work of art. Working with our hands and our mind is a gift anyone is capable of achieving, regardless of what background we were raised in, as long as we have a gentle guide that enables capacity building that supports different modalities. By creating a “safe-enough” space—the first step that a gentle guide takes, the artistic practice is nurtured and looked upon as the “critique of the soul.” This critique takes the form of channeling and facing our biggest fears, and making “something from nothing” in a time frame that suits our mindset. Co-incidentally, this also represents Mi’kmaq code of ethics put into action. Such action, whether in teaching or making art, facilitates life processes whereby interconnectivity of everything becomes perspicacious to the participant-learner.
Approaching each classroom with no pre-conceived notions, but with well-prepared minds, the goal of teacher is to work with students as their guide towards a journey that wants to unfold. When you engage in a dialogue with your student, they learn the art of creating simply by talking about their own process. It is in this manner that my best instructor in my art school at Langara College taught me the beauty of broken pottery shortly after it came out of a kiln. My short-lived devastation suddenly turned into another way of transforming a work of art. It was not broken: it was a new way of looking at art. That experience reminded me of what my elders passed on to me when I was younger: to always leave a mistake in the works of art, with which you remember that life is not always perfect. That teachable moment allowed me to teach sculpture using Indigenous pedagogy and ontology as a way to teach Indigenous worldview effortlessly.
Knowing these ancient teachings made it easier for me to nurture prior knowledge in each student and to acknowledge that things do not always happen as we planned, and that everything is interconnected. Mi’kmaq non-interference code of ethics is about putting aside your urge to tell someone what to do in contrast to supporting someone with his or her creative process. Teaching from an Indigenous perspective allows the student to understand and embody many ancient or indigenous philosophies, such as Mi’kmaq’s, in a manner that gently expands their artistic limitations without judgment.
Art is a catalyst that moves you between worlds, be it the business world or the teaching profession. Whatever world you decide to be in professionally, having a background in the arts will allow you to engage the world on many different levels. Such has been my experience, whether in engaging with my art and education colleagues, and students or in working with hundreds of people at a conference as their honored guest. Thus, into my teaching, I will bring my combined background of artist training and Mi’kmaq philosophy, from which I will teach my students to work with a process that challenges them to look at things beyond their capabilities and differently from all angles. It is my intention to create a dynamic and creative educational experience for my students, where we are able to be with diverse communities of peoples as participants in meaningful relationships based on learning, collaboration, and community building.