About

Ocean Kiana is a Nishinaabe a fashion designer and artist from Northwestern Ontario, nurtured by the matriarchs of her family. She carries the Nishinaabe name Waabshki Memegwans, which means White Butterfly, and she belongs to the Wolf Clan. Ocean grew up on her home reserves, Biigtigong Nishnaabeg (Pic River First Nation) and Netmizaagamig Nishnaabeg (Pic Mobert First Nation), where she participated in ceremonies, powwows, and spent significant time on the land with her grandparents, aunties, uncles, cousins, mother, and sister. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Anishinaabe Studies with a Minor in Visual Arts from Algoma University and Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig.

Throughout her years, Ocean was actively involved in her home community of Biigtigong Nishnaabeg, working in roles dedicated to reclaiming the traditional waterways used by her ancestors. Initially, her work focused on revitalizing the Nishinaabe languages of her communities and reclaiming their traditional territories. Her deep connection with the land has shaped her into a visual arts storyteller and an interdisciplinary artist specializing in drawing, beading, and design, with a primary focus on fashion design.

Ocean’s art, strongly influenced by her Anishinaabe territory, community, and identity, features vibrant colors, florals, and woodland dancers. She credits many Anishinaabe artists before her for their mentorship and inspiration, which have played a pivotal role in her artistic journey. Passionate about community engagement, Ocean loves teaching art and sharing her knowledge through workshops and public speaking.

A respected advocate for Indigenous peoples and a cherished community member, Ocean has been recognized with two prestigious awards from Trent University: the “Louise Garrow Prize” from Peter Gzowski College and the First People’s House of Learning (2019), and the “Peter Gzowski Student Excellence Award” from Peter Gzowski College (2019). Ocean continues to champion and serve her communities through her diverse artistic expressions and community involvement.

Education

  • Bachelor of Arts in Anishinaabe Studies, Minor in Visual Arts
    Algoma University, Sault Ste Marie, ON
  • Fashion Techniques and Design, Construction I & II
    George Brown College, Toronto, ON
  • Fashion Techniques and Design, Drafting I & II
    George Brown College, Toronto, ON

Exhibitions and Public Shows

  • Aanikoobidoon: Stringing Together Past, Present, and Future
    Thunder Bay, ON, 2024
    An exhibition showcasing works that explore the interconnectedness of Anishinaabe cultural timelines through modern artistic expressions of beadwork.

  • Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week
    Vancouver, BC, 2023
    A major event highlighting contemporary Indigenous fashion, showcasing unique designs that blend traditional crafts and modern aesthetics.

  • First Nations House Fashion Show
    Toronto, ON, 2023
    Featured designer at an influential fashion show presenting innovative Indigenous designs to a diverse audience, emphasizing cultural heritage and modern fashion trends.

  • Paris Fashion Week/Spotlight Fashion
    Paris, France, 2023
    One of the world's foremost fashion weeks, introducing Anishinaabe designs to the global fashion community.

  • Welcome Toronto Creator Program, Scotiabank Arena
    Toronto, ON, 2023
    Selected as part of a creator program to present works that reflect the vibrant culture and dynamic stories of Toronto’s diverse communities.

  • Algoma University Perplexity Group Exhibition
    Sault Ste Marie, ON, 2022
    Contributed to a group exhibition at Algoma University, featuring emerging artists and highlighting the perplexities of modern Indigenous identity and expression.

    Public Art Murals

    • Park’s Canada Rouge Beach, Placemakers
      Toronto, ON, 2022

    Works Produced

    2024

    • Granny Rosie
      A dress made with red velvet and a mix of Charlotte and Czech seed beads. Inspired by my grandmother Rosie, who was the original crafter in my family.

    • Winter Snow
      A men's woodland regalia made with wool and Czech seed beads, evoking the serene beauty of winter snowscapes.

    2023

    • Love On The Brain x Paris Fashion Week Collection
      Debuted at Paris Fashion Week and later at Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week, showcasing a blend of modern fashion with traditional motifs.

    • The Sweetheart Collection
      A series of ribbon skirts crafted for a Valentine's Day collection.

    • Anangokaa in the 6ix, Beadwork
      A beadwork project that celebrates Toronto’s Anishinaabe community.

    • My Sister, My Star
      A skirt depicting the journey with my sister to various powwows, featuring blue and yellow colors symbolic of her name, Blue Star.

    • Ocean, Acrylic
      A collaboration piece with Trenedee Watson, capturing the essence of the ocean and the tranquility of night, depicted through a sleeping woman surrounded by protective flowers.

    • Peach Hearts, Beadwork
      A beadwork set characterized by pink, green, and purple hearts.

    • Lilac, Beadwork
      A beaded purse using Czech seed and Charlotte beads, designed with a kiss clasp.

    • Her Two Worlds Meet, Digital
      Commissioned by the Toronto Raptors, a digital work representing my cultural ties and passion for basketball.

    • Community Care, Acrylic
      An acrylic painting emphasizing communal nurturing, depicted through protective animal symbolism.

    • Woodland Princess, Beadwork
      A trilogy of princess crowns for Mitaanjigaming First Nations' princess pageant.

    2022

    • Winter Solstice Collection
      A collection inspired by the reflective nature of the winter solstice, blending traditional patterns with modern aesthetics.

    • Geo's and Florals, Beadwork
      A fusion of Anishinaabe geometrics and florals crafted with Charlotte beads.

    • Dagwaagin Bag, Beadwork
      Inspired by the autumnal beauty of red and orange leaves during time spent on the land.

    • Red Flower, Beadwork
      A vibrant beadwork set on white velvet, featuring a striking red flower symbolizing the sun.

    • Growing Pains, Digital Work
      A digital expression of personal growth and pain during COVID, featuring thorny stems and bright flowers.

    • Jingle Dress Remastered, Digital Work
      A digital revisitation of my first artistic endeavors, focusing on the iconic Jingle Dress.

    • Valentine's Day Set, Beadwork
      A beadwork collection inspired by Valentine's Day colors and themes.

    • She is Magnificent, Digital Work
      A digital tribute to MMIW, encapsulating our connection with Grandmother Moon.

    • Ode’min Mashkiki Pouch, Beadwork
      Celebrating the heartberry's medicinal properties through traditional beadwork

    • Raptors But Make it Woodland
      A creative fusion of traditional powwow regalia with the dynamic world of basketball, this piece explores and celebrates the intersection of Indigenous cultural heritage and modern sports.
    • Anishinaabe Retros, Digital Works
      A contemporary digital art series that blends traditional Ojibway florals with the iconic design of Nike Jordan Retro 1s, symbolizing a unique cross-cultural collaboration in fashion and heritage.

      2021

      • Did You Know I Talk to My Nokomis About You?, Digital Work
        A personal and poignant digital work reflecting conversations with the moon.

      • We Must Pray for Them, Digital Work
        An evocative piece honoring survivors and victims of residential schools.

      • Old Style Florals, Digital Work
        A monochromatic piece representing winter florals, later incorporated into the Winter Solstice Collection.

      • Valentine's Day Collection, Beadwork & Apparel
        A debut collection of beadwork earrings and t-shirt designs celebrating Valentine's Day.

      2020

      • Old Style Fancy, Digital Work
        A digital depiction of an old-style fancy dancer, surrounded by floral motifs.

      • Nicole-Nicool, Digital Work
        A vibrant portrayal of a jingle dress dancer in lilac and peach with Anishinaabe floral patterns.

      • Celine, Digital Work
        A digital portrait of Celine in her regalia, surrounded by intricate floral designs, reflecting her personal and cultural identity.

      Commissions

      • All Nations Powwow, Digital Works
        University of Toronto-Mississauga, Toronto, 2024
        Designed the promotional poster and additional digital works for the All Nations Powwow.
      • Anangokaa in the 6ix, Beadwork
        Raptors MLSE, Toronto, 2023
        Crafted a bandolier bag that intertwines Toronto's urban identity with Anishinaabe culture, symbolizing the connection between the city’s sports scene and its Indigenous community.
        • Woodland Princess, Beadwork
          Mitaanjigaming First Nations, 2023
          Commissioned to create a trilogy of princess crowns for the Mitaanjigaming First Nations' princess pageant. These beadwork crowns are crafted to celebrate and uphold the cultural and ceremonial traditions of the community, showcasing intricate beadwork of woodland florals.
        • Community Care, Acrylic
        • Marathon Family Health Team, Marathon, 2023
          An acrylic painting that illustrates the nurturing aspect of community care, depicted through the image of a mother bear and her cubs—a symbol of protection and communal support.
        • What's in my Bundle, Digital Work
          Greater Goods Studio, Chicago, 2022
          Developed a digital artwork for Melanie Goodchild, utilized as a research dissemination tool that reflects traditional Indigenous knowledge and methodologies.
        • The Beauty of the Land, Digital Work
          Parks Canada, Toronto, 2022
          Produced digital artwork that captures the essence of the land, bridging elements from both my home community and urban Toronto, for use in Parks Canada’s mural in Rouge Park.
        • Nicole-Nicool, Digital Work
          Nish Law, Thunder Bay, ON, 2020
          Created a vibrant portrayal of a jingle dress dancer adorned in lilac and peach with Anishinaabe floral patterns.
        • Celine, Digital Work
          Personal Commission, Marathon, 2020
          Commissioned to create a digital portrait of Celine in her regalia, surrounded by intricate floral designs, capturing her personal and cultural identity. 
        • Gchi-Waasaaganing, Digital Work
          Biigtigong Sustainable Development, Biigtigong Nishnaabeg, 2020
          Developed a series of digital works for marketing and promotional materials.

        Awards and Achievements

        • Louise Garrow Prize
          Awarded by Peter Gzowski College and the First People’s House of Learning, Trent University (2019)
          Recognition of excellence in artistic and academic pursuits.

        • Peter Gzowski Student Excellence Award
          Awarded by Peter Gzowski College, Trent University (2019)
          Acknowledgment of outstanding achievements in academics and community involvement.

         

        Published Mentions and Appearances

        • Vogue Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week Red Dress Showcase November 22nd, 2023
        • The Impression Ocean Kiana Spring Collection 24, October 2023 
        • Madame.lefigaro Ocean Kiana Spring Collection 24, October 10, 2023
        • Fashion Network Ocean Kiana Spring Collection 24
        • Fashion Week Online Spotlight Fashion Unveils Four Incredible SS24 Collections During Paris Fashion Week
        • Amica Ocean Kiana Primavera Estate 2024, October 2023
        • CTV's Your Morning Appearance Date: March 20th, 2023