Irvine-based 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, film, spoken word audio, and live performances designed to create a dynamic expression that can be understood on many levels.

Throughout, her work is deeply informed 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.”

Her spoken word film, “Night Swimming,” unfolds through the lens of Grant and uses the diverse facets of water as an allegory for the emotional range of women. The narrative explores a profound connection to the potency of the ocean, rain, and storms, showcasing an acknowledgment of Mother Earth’s timely bestowal of her gifts. The essence of the story extends to the healing process, emphasizing the purifying nature of ocean swims and the cathartic satisfaction found in thunderstorms during periods of romantic upheaval. Furthermore, it delves into the exhilaration of dancing in the rain, the wisdom of intuitive listening, and the reverence for ancestral voices that guide and resonate within us.

360 Magazine + Andrea Grant

When and at what age did you realize you were an artist? Particularly a spoken word artist?

I have always felt a deep inclination towards storytelling. The desire to become a writer was innate within me, with poetry being my initial passion. This led me to pursue studies in Creative Writing and English Literature during my college years, which significantly refined my craft.

My journey into spoken word poetry began with the encouragement of one of my favorite teachers inviting me to recite at an event. Despite the nerves, I recognized the importance of embracing spoken word as a pivotal step in advancing my career as a poet.

It took a lot of practice – and voice lessons – to learn how to project my voice and maintain consistent volume. In 2003, I recorded my debut spoken word album, “Want Some Scratch?” Since then, I’ve continued to expand my repertoire, recording “Modern Native” and “Night Swimming,” which I later adapted for film.

What inspired the project NIGHT SWIMMING?

I’ve always associated water with femininity. In “Night Swimming,” I explore this connection by delving into the profound power of the ocean, rain, and storms, and how they symbolize Mother Earth’s nurturing essence, especially in times of need.

The piece also explores themes of healing, highlighting how immersing oneself in the ocean can be a purifying experience, akin to washing away troubles. It touches on the catharsis of experiencing a thunderstorm during moments of romantic turmoil. Additionally, “Night Swimming” celebrates the exhilaration of dancing in the rain, embracing intuition, and paying homage to the ancestral voices of Native peoples that continue to guide us.

How important was it for you to push out this particular project?

Very important. The transition from an oral tradition to a print-based society has unfortunately resulted in the loss of numerous First Nations stories. These narratives, rich with cultural significance and wisdom, were once passed down through generations via spoken word, but with the advent of the print world, many were left undocumented and eventually forgotten. This loss not only deprives Indigenous communities of their heritage but also diminishes the broader understanding of diverse cultural perspectives.

In response to this cultural erosion, there arises an urgent need to preserve and share these Native narratives in a contemporary and accessible format. By revitalizing these stories through various mediums, including films, digital platforms, and visual arts, we can ensure their preservation and accessibility to present and future generations. 

Once you received acknowledgement for NIGHT SWIMMING, how did it make you feel? Whom did you first reach out to? And why?

While receiving acknowledgment is certainly gratifying, I believe that as a creator, one never truly reaches a point of complete satisfaction. There’s an inherent drive to continually strive for more. “Night Swimming” represents my second venture into spoken word, and I initiated its launch by submitting it to various film festivals. Once a film gains acceptance and earns accolades, it tends to attract more attention from audiences. I’ve also been fortunate to have received some press coverage, which serves to further amplify awareness of the project.

Is there anything that we should know about the process of disseminating NIGHT SWIMMING? Any tribulations?

The artist’s path is not for the faint of heart, and it’s characterized by numerous hurdles, which ultimately add to its allure. Distributing a short film presents a significant challenge since it doesn’t conform to the typical 30-minute to 1.5-hour time slot, making it less likely to be featured in traditional theater settings. While social media platforms offer a means of promotion, there’s a limit to their effectiveness due to digital fatigue among audiences. However, consistent exposure can spark interest, provided it’s done in a manner that isn’t overwhelming.

Are there any words of wisdom, you would explain to the 10yro version of yourself to better prepare for the journey you embarked?

In addition to reassuring my younger self that my thick, nerdy glasses were temporary and that contact lenses would change my life, I would also emphasize the importance of a belief I’ve always held dear: that we have the ability to shape our own reality. Since childhood, I’ve been a diligent creator of lists outlining my goals and aspirations, serving as a guiding map for my future endeavors. I firmly believe that willpower is the most potent force one can possess and that manifesting one’s destiny is a deliberate and strategic choice. Being an avid reader, I’ve often found inspiration in fairytales, which frequently convey the message that the power to achieve our desires lies within us all along.

That said, there is no universal secret to success. There’s no single path to follow, no magic formula to uncover; each person’s journey is unique.  

Is there anything we haven’t touched on that you would like to speak about? Community involvement? Sequel?

I’m in the process of creating a new full-length spoken word album and finishing up an illustrated collection of reimagined Coast Salish stories. 

Additionally, I’m directing my attention towards my comic book series, “Minx,” with the goal of adapting it into a video game as well as an animated or live-action series.