Karma and Zhiishiigwe (Karma and Rattlesnake) by Jacenia Desmoulin

Anishinaabe Artist Jacenia Desmoulin Shows Diverse Skills

By Savanah Tillberg

A combination of talent, determination, and a little bit of luck has brought artist Jacenia Desmoulin into the public eye. Born in Providence, Rhode Island and raised in Biigtigong Nishnaabeg, near Marathon, Desmoulin currently lives in Thunder Bay, where she creates mixed media art.

In addition to motherhood and working full time as an office administrator, Desmoulin says art has always been one of her biggest passions. “As a kid I was always drawing on whatever I could find, including my homework,” she says. “When I started high school, I was able to take art classes, which I took every year along with drama and vocals.” Desmoulin is a self-taught tattoo artist and has a small studio that she runs out of her home. “I found that tattooing wasn’t that difficult for me to learn,” she says, “And I think that was just because of my background in art.” She explains that she purchased a tattoo apprentice kit and began practicing on fake skin, then on herself, and then her brave and supportive friends. Initially it was something she had taken up for fun, but soon she found that people were approaching her for her work. 

Desmoulin says that she likes to be busy and always has something on the go. Her most recent project was her partnership with the National Hockey League’s Chicago Blackhawks. The Blackhawks recently launched an education and investment initiative that aims to support Indigenous peoples through various collaborations with Indigenous communities and individuals. Following the discovery of one of Desmoulin’s designs on her Instagram page, a Blackhawks representative contacted her and commissioned her to create all of the graphic designs for the Native American Initiatives page on the organization’s website. “We had set up a phone call and once [the caller] said she worked for the Chicago Blackhawks I kind of just shut down,” she says, laughing. She describes it as an exciting and surreal experience and is looking forward to future collaborations with the team. 

While her own website is currently in the works, Desmoulin says she is open for commissions for both paintings and digital illustrations. COVID-pending, she is hoping to resume tattooing in the new year.

You can find Desmoulin and her work on Instagram @ice.bear.studios.