Newspaper article The Canadian Press

'It's Strength:' Indigenous Women's Art Displayed on Billboards across Canada

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

'It's Strength:' Indigenous Women's Art Displayed on Billboards across Canada

Article excerpt

Indigenous women's art displayed on billboards

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WINNIPEG - Artists are reclaiming space in inner cities and on highways where many Indigenous women have suffered violence or disappeared.

From June until August, the Resilience Project is putting the work of 50 Indigenous women artists on 167 billboards across the country to show Indigenous women are visible, powerful and should be celebrated.

Two of the billboards will be on the Highway of Tears, a 700-kilometre stretch of road in northern British Columbia where numerous Indigenous women have been murdered or disappeared.

The project, which includes photographs, paintings, and multimedia pieces, was produced by the Winnipeg centre Mentoring Artist for Women's Art as a response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on residential schools.

"Resilience for this project is not just the narrow dictionary definition. It's embodied as endurance, adaptability and sovereignty. It's strength. It's not about being a victim," said curator Lee-Ann Martin.

"It's about these women standing as defenders of their cultural sovereignty and proudly expressing that."

Racism and exclusion have been part of the development of Canada and Indigenous women specifically have been disenfranchised and misunderstood, Martin said. Indigenous women couldn't vote federally until 1960, lost their status and rights when they married outside of their communities and, in the art world, their work was classified as crafts, she said.

Artist KC Adams's Winnipeg home is adorned with different photo portraits, each with a unique story. Adams said Indigenous women are often only defined through stereotypes.

"I know a lot of incredible Indigenous females who are going out every day and showing how to lead a good life and yet they are labelled with this victimhood," said Adams. "This is really a conversation starter on how we need to change our point of view. …

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