James Graham Andrea Grant - Photo by James Graham

Biography

Andrea Grant is a Canadian-born writer and multimedia artist of mixed-blood Coast Salish Native ancestry. Her artistic reputation comes from a unique melding of mythological stories, poems, photography, video, spoken word audio, and live performances designed to create a dynamic expression that can be understood on many levels. Themes include juxtaposition, mythology, the contradictions of modern womanhood, and what it means specifically to be a “Modern Native” in the digital age.

Throughout, her work is deeply infused by her First Nations heritage, where she often weaves together traditional Coast Salish legends and classic fairytales which are infused with multicultural and feminist influences. Due to this blended point of view, her writing is often described as being that of a “Modern Native.”

Grant studied Creative Writing at Kwantlen University College, and has so far been awarded four prestigious First Nations Storyteller grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, as well as grants from the BC Arts Council and the First Peoples’ Cultural Council.

One of these grants was to write BLEACH, a memoir about her upbringing within the dystopian Jehovah’s Witness faith and subsequent exploration of her Native heritage (publishing details to be announced). “A lot of my stories are about remembering where you’re from and realizing the greater scope of why you ended up somewhere mythologically,” Grant states.

She is currently wrapping up a collection of reimagined Coast Salish myths, entitled Killer Whale-Wolf & the Isle of Women, illustrated by renowned Tacoma artist, Qwalsius-Shaun Peterson. These stories are supernaturally-driven and haunting, exploring what it means to be a “Modern Native” in the digital age. Wolves and killer-whales shift into human form, missing Native girls are avenged, rainmaking rituals are paramount, and—as in all universal myths— the power of transformation is at the core of the most emotionally dramatic tales.

This summer, Grant is also embarking upon a live-action video project that’s based on her epic spoken word poem, Modern Native. “It’s about the storytelling traditions of Native culture and finding empowerment as you face up to life’s challenges and take control of your destiny,” she explains. “It’s about how tribal myths are taught and learned throughout generations. In a lot of ways, the current shift from the print to the digital medium reminds me of how so many First Nation stories got lost in the transition from oral history to print. There’s an urgent need right now to share those narratives with the world in a contemporary, accessible format, which is where video comes into play.”

Grant began her career in Vancouver with the launch of the arts-focused Copious magazine, which gained a significant following and associated itself with the spoken word scene. She eventually went on to work as a digital editor at Condé Nast, a dream she’d had ever since she was a teenager reading Vogue magazine. In 2009, she published her first poetry collection, The Pin-Up Poet—a book that pairs noirish photos of Grant portraying a number of different characters, with imagistic poetry that offers insight into the women’s identities or predicaments.

Her passion for merging words with visuals is what propelled her into the realm of comic books. She began writing illustrated stories as early as 2003, starring a mysterious heroine called MINX, a Native warrior woman with the ability to move between the parallel dimensions of Dreamtime and our waking reality, usually surrounded by a pack of white spirit wolves.

Around this time, she became friends with Victoria-born, Vancouver-based Kiley James Hendriks, better known as the hip-hop artist, Prevail. He impressed her as an award-winning rapper known for clever, lyrical references so cryptic they sent fans straight to the literature section of bookstores. Prevail and his co-collaborator, Mad Child, had created the group, Swollen Members, and at that time they were considered the most innovative artists in Canadian hip-hop. Prevail was a kindred spirit, a local boy who was also from a mixed-race family, who had found his voice and was constantly exploring new levels of his potential. He became a collaborator who inspired Grant to new heights, and she was delighted when he agreed to play a character in MINX.

In a way, the MINX saga is also Grant’s own story, a kind of allegory that mirrors her own passage out of darkness into a greater discovery of both herself and her history. Like the protagonist, MINX, it took Grant a long time to unlock her inner life. Born into a family of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Grant found herself growing increasingly wary of the church’s teachings, a skepticism that grew deeper as her father began to explore his own lineage. “My father began rediscovering his Native roots later in life,” she explains, “He left the religion and had a sort of shamanistic breakdown, suddenly remembering traditions that his father had taught him, which filtered down to me.”

Grant eventually left both the religion and the Pacific Northwest, relocating to New York in 2004 for several years to concentrate on her art. The concept for MINX gradually expanded to include roles for many of Grant’s friends, including Prevail and Oliver “Oli” Power Grant, the founding producer of the Wu Tang Clan.

New York was everything Grant wanted it to be—exciting, creatively stimulating, gritty, and overwhelming. She began writing more poetry, developing her portfolio to expand into different genres of writing, and getting published in more and more literary journals. She began performing spoken word at famous venues such as the Nuyorican Poet’s Cafe and Le Poisson Rouge, sometimes under the alias of “The Pin-Up Poet.”

New York was such a multicultural city, and Grant submerged herself in the mythological stories of different cultures as well as her own, exploring the concept of archetypes and the hero’s journey. In 2011, she launched MINX: Dream War, a graphic novel series that deftly blends the folklore of her own Native heritage with Greek mythology, Taoist philosophy and the classic archetypes developed by Joseph Campbell. The result is a work that explores the power of legend and myth—while also being a dizzying, surrealist adventure.

The concept of Dreamtime and Dream Warriors stems from the Native belief that when you sleep, you actually visit Dreamtime, a world just as rich as the one you inhabit while awake. Graphic novels were a vehicle to expand on the notions of heritage, personal choice, and identity, using MINX’s adventures as a way to explore the notion of loyalty to one’s tribe, and being true to your past while confronting the obstacles that lie ahead, spanning various dimensions including those in the past.

It finds Grant carrying on the tradition of her people, using comics as a way of preserving the ancient myths and modern narratives of her heritage in a contemporary format. Grant maintains close ties to her Penelakut tribe near Vancouver Island, transcribing Native legends from elder storytellers. MINX was well-received by the public, exhibited at several Comic-Con events, and was even syndicated in Indian Country Today magazine. MINX is currently being developed for a film or television series.

The concept of Dreamtime comes from Grant’s past: Native Americans believe that when you sleep, you actually visit Dreamtime, a world just as rich as the one you inhabit while awake. MINX’s identity in Dreamtime–and what it is she has to accomplish while she’s there–will be revealed over the course of the next several books. Throughout, Grant expands on the notions of heritage, personal choice and identity, using MINX’s adventures as a way to explore the notion of loyalty to one’s tribe, and being true to your past while confronting the obstacles that lie ahead. Ultimately it is about one woman’s journey, both across dimensions and into her own past.

A prevalent theme throughout Grant’s writing is about remembering one’s origins and returning to your tribe with the realization of why you ended up on a certain mythological journey. In 2017, Grant was unexpectedly struck with acute pancreatitis, an inflammatory condition of the pancreas that is extremely painful and deadly. She spent two months in the ICU literally fighting for her life. The mortality rate of this disease is around 10%, and she was determined to not be a statistic.

“When I was in the hospital, a friend kindly gifted me with a book called Poetry Will Save Your Life,” Grant recalls. “At the time, I believed it would certainly save mine. It inspired me during the darkest moments and reminded me of how much I love poetry. Part of what got me through my near-death experience was the intrinsic belief that there is still so much creatively that I have yet to accomplish. From my hospital bed, I began writing poetry for the first time in ages, experiencing a feeling of “returning” with a forever-altered viewpoint.

Also slated for 2019 is a poetry collection called No Return: Too Narrow for My Shoulder Blades, which Grant describes as “an exploration of mythological female archetypes from the perspective of a Coast Salish woman of mixed blood.” The concept of “returning” will be explored in the context of returning to origins after a phase of self-realization, and the feeling of being trapped in an unfulfilling or dangerous place, either geographically or metaphorically, and overcome by a pressing need to escape. It is only after a transformative experience where pivotal lessons have been learned that there is enough emotional space to symbolically or literally “return.”

The collection will involve an investigation and reclamation of the mythology of goddesses and women warriors, saviors, sinners, mystical priestesses, medicine women, and mothers, daughters, and sisters who look to that mythology for guidance. It will also explore the conventions of matriarchal cultures, and the sacrifices that many women made to facilitate the survival of future generations. The project is being mentored by award-winning Canadian poet, Marion Quednau.

Through reading her stories and poems, Grant hopes that perhaps people can find a bit more of themselves. “I’d like to inspire people and show them that ,” she says, “I am living proof that if you follow your own path, there is always redemption.”

Andrea Grant—Curriculum Vitae 2019
Click to Read

Artist’s Website:  www.CopiousAmounts.com


Education + Awards

2019—Awarded a British Columbia Arts Council Storyteller Grant to write a collection of poetry centered around the mythology of women’s stories, entitled No Return: Too Narrow for My Shoulder Blades.

2019—Awarded a First Peoples’ Cultural Council Grant to create a video for Modern Native, a spoken word poem which explores one’s connection to tribe in the digital age.

2018—Awarded a Canada Council Aboriginal Storyteller Arts Grant to write a collection of reimagined Coast Salish myths, entitled Killer Whale-Wolf & the Isle of Women, illustrated by renowned artist Qwalsius-Shaun Peterson.

2016—Awarded a Canada Council Aboriginal Storyteller Arts Grant to write a memoir called BLEACH, from the perspective of a person of Mixed-Blood raised in the dystopian Jehovah’s Witness faith who experienced cultural confusion, identity crisis, and then a reawakening and exploration of a powerful First Nations heritage.

2011—Awarded a Canada Council Aboriginal Storyteller Arts Grant to produce a full- length graphic novel for Minx: The Dream Warriors (2012 release).

2010—Awarded a Canada Council Arts Grant Aboriginal Storyteller Arts Grant to produce a full-length graphic novel for Minx: Dream War (2011 release).

2009—G4 TV’s ‘Women of the Web’ award for “Women With Mad Skills” for comic book writing.

2000—Kwantlen University College—Creative Writing + English Literature.


Poems + Publications

1995 to 2019—Poems and essays published in literary journals such as: Beneath the Surface, Amethyst Review, The Adirondack Review, Afterthoughts, Copious, DETAILS magazine, Hecale, Macenstein.com, Slightly West, Newsletter Inago, South Ash Press, Unlikely Stories, Circle Magazine, Poetry in Motion, Slacker Bonding, Illya’s Honey, In Your Face!, Arachnia, and Poetry Motel, as well as various online journals and on social media platforms.

2013 to 2015—Writer for several “Graphic Classics” books (www.graphicclassics.com). Stories include The Hunter & Medicine Legend (featured in the Native American Classics anthology), Morella (an interpretation of an Edgar Allen Poe story), and The Flowering of the Strange Orchid (based on a story by H.G. Wells).

2012—Minx: The Dream Warriors—Limited Edition Comic Book. Book 2 of trilogy.

2012—Adaptation and syndication of the Minx: Dream War series in Indian Country Today magazine, with a new take on traditional Native myths (published in print and digital formats) www.indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com.

2011—Minx: Dream War full-length graphic novel, both in print and digital formats. Book 1 of trilogy. The MINX series merges traditional Coast Salish Native American mythology with clever contemporary fantasy and has a loyal fan base.

2010—Ready to Where? A Fashion-themed web comic produced by The Fashion Spot in accordance with New York Fashion Week.

2010 to 2012—Writer and Producer for Copious Productions custom comics, in association with the Thrillist media group www.copiousproductions.com.

2010 to 2013—Writer and Digital Editor for DETAILS magazine (Condé Nast).

2011—Editor of Amore Bermuda, a cookbook by celebrity chef Livio Fergio (published by Inside Edge Communications).

2008 to 2010—Editor-in-Chief of the Fashion Spot www.thefashionspot.com.

2009—The Pin-Up Poet — A full-length art book featuring poetry and accompanying photos of Ms. Grant portraying feminine archetypes.

2008 to 2009—Minx: Coma Sleepers Hear It All comic book series, syndicated in Bombin’ magazine and featured in Comic Arts Guild #5. Created and maintained www.MinxComic.com to communicate with fans, showcasing character stories within the fictional “Dreamtime Universe.”

2008—Freelance Writer for Bermuda News Network.

2007—Writer and Producer of an animated short film for Media Edge/MEC Global and Y&R agencies to promote a pharmaceutical product.

2001 to 2009—Copious magazine Editor & Publisher www.copiousmagazine.com.

2004 to 2005—Profile magazine monthly “New York City Dating Diary” columnist (80,000 readers).

2004 to 2017—Cross-promotional creative projects shot with renowned fashion and art photographers such as Simon Thorpe, Pepsi Kim, Shannon Brooke, Viva Van Story, Chas Ray Krider, Ken Thurlbeck, Circe Hamilton, James Graham, Justin Hyte, Nicholas Routzen, Darryl Humphrey, Gordan Dumka, Vlad Voloshin, Gigi Stoll, Circe Hamilton, Gary Breckheimer, Joseph Marranca, and Rames Xelhuantzi, among others.


Spoken Word Recordings, Speaking Engagements + Performances

2019—Spoken Word recordings of stories from “Killer Whale-Wolf & the Isle of Women” to coincide with 2020 book launch.

2016—Spoken Word features in the songs “Speakeasy Love” and “Pin-Up Girl” as part of an all-female ensemble led by L.A.’s “Retro Raptress,” including a live performance and appearance in an accompanying music video.

2015—Spoken Word Performance as part of “The Mixed Media Method” project in NYC.

2013—Lead role in How to Be Alone: How to Make An Art Video (how-to-be-alone.com), directed by Donari Braxton.

2013—Lead role in surrealist art video by Evan Ønly.

2012—Exhibited Minx: Dream War comic book series at the Pequot Museum in Connecticut (www.pequotmuseum.org), and spoke about how modern Native people are preserving traditional tribal stories in a new, multimedia context.

2012—Recorded Modern Native, a spoken word track produced by Dan “Vago” Orellana 2012 Participated in W2’s InDigital Animate and Career Path lab, speaking to Indigenous youth in Vancouver, Canada.

2004 to 2014—International comic book convention autograph signings and promotion of the Minx books and brand (U.S. and Canada) and supporting launch parties in NYC.

2003—Want Some Scratch? A 23 track spoken word CD produced by Dan “Vago” Orellana and The Stylist, also distributed digitally. Sales are steady into 2017.

2000 to 2015—Performed several poetry readings in the U.S. and across Canada. Highlights include several events at the world-class Le Poisson Rouge in New York City (2009-20015), headlining a 2004 Halloween event at the Nuyorican Poet’s Café, opening for bands, the “Louder Arts” poetry slam at Bar 13 in New York (2003), “BC Day Festival,” at the Plaza of Nations in Vancouver (2003), and “The Flying V Tour” with Canadian recording artists, Swollen Members (2001).


Press  + Documentary Features

2014—Video interview about poetry and multimedia art for the Popreel, a television series about popular culture, produced by the Swedish Educational Broadcasting Company.

2012—Feature in Cosmopolitan Korea to promote MINX.

2009 to 2012—Features and interviews for comic book industry publications/websites such as: Newsarama.com, ComicAttack.net, JazmaOnline.com, ComicRelated.com, AlterNative Media, Comic Foundry, ComicReaders.com, Examiner.com, ComicsWorthReading.com, BUST magazine, and Village Voice.

2009—TORO Magazine feature article, entitled “Andrea Grant: The Heroine” www.toromagazine.com/sex/toro-woman/20090831/the-heroine.

2009—Appeared in Oprah Winfrey’s O Magazine in a feature about New York editors.

2008—Page Six, New York Times, mentioned in an article about being a creative in NYC.

2008—Lead role in a TV commercial for Johnny Walker, as a woman personifying the BLUE label brand of the famous scotch.

2007—Documentary piece by Sarah Keenlyside (Inkblot Media) entitled Andrea Grant’s MINX: The Dream War Project, filmed at NY Comic Con (www.youtube.com/ watch?v=iLGDJcMkn4w)

2007—Interviewer / Host of On the Spot, a series produced by The Fashion Spot for NY Fashion Week which included street style interviews, live fashion show coverage, and interviews with top designers such as Isaac Mizrahi.

2006—Documentary segment on Art or Something Like It, produced by Brian Bernhard in NYC, in a feature on spoken word projects.

2006—Top story coverage in the New York Post detailing a trademark battle between Andrea Grant & DC Comics over MINX (amicably resolved).

2005—Documentary segment on CBC’s Zed TV show, produced by Greg Liburd and focusing on Pin-Up Poetry + Art projects.

2005—Camel Cigarettes International campaign, appeared in numerous print advertisements.

2003—Documentary segment on CTV’s First Story produced by Pieter Romer, focused on MINX and Coast Salish Native origins.