Envisioning an Enchanted World: On Christi Belcourt’s The Wisdom of the Universe, 2014

Visual Critical Studies | Humanities and Sciences Division

Course: Fall 2022Master's Project 1VISCR-6400-1
Program Chair: Jacqueline Francis
Thesis Director: Viet Le
Internal Thesis Advisor: Viet Le
External Thesis Advisor: Angela Hennessy
Master's Thesis Information
Student: Godbey, Liz — Fine Arts (MFA)Visual and Critical Studies (MA)
Keyword(s): Indigenous ethnobotany, colonial botany, settler-colonialism, enchantment
This paper focuses on Michif artist Christi Belcourt’s beadwork-inspired paintings. My research goal is to shed light on how Belcourt’s paintings make visible the notion of an interconnected world which stands in opposition to a dominant Western scientific worldview that is closely linked to settler-colonial and extractive capitalist goals. I claim that traditional Indigenous artwork, or that which is inspired by it, like that of Christi Belcourt, interrupts colonial ways of looking at the natural world in favor of ones that are grounded in cultural and place-based knowledge and memory. Using enchantment as a key theoretical framework, I argue that Christi Belcourt’s large, vibrant, beadwork-inspired paintings of plants, animals, and insects conjure an enchanted vision of the natural world, acting as a counter-imagining against colonial traditions of landscape painting and botanical illustration. As we are increasingly bombarded with images of catastrophes and destruction - both natural and human-made - Belcourt’s work reminds us of what else is still here - beautiful and worth respect and admiration. Belcourt’s work not only shows us the beauty of the world but reminds us how to be in the world, juxtaposing an Indigenous perspective on the sacredness of land with the colonial viewpoint of land as an economic resource.
This item is public.
For rights relating to this resource, please contact the CCA Humanities and Sciences Division

Links to resources


  • Owner: Elizabeth Godbey
  • Collection: Visual Critical Studies (MA) Program
  • Version: 1 (show all)
  • Status: Live