Exhibition: Materialized

Native Women in the Arts and Critical Distance Centre for Curators are pleased to present Materialized in partnership with Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival and Partners in Art. The exhibition is curated by Ariel Smith and features works by Joi T. Arcand, Celeste Pedri-Spade, and Catherine Blackburn, with a public art billboard by Nadya Kwandibens.

On view: April 21 – June 3, 2023 / Opening reception: Friday, April 21, 2023

Image: Catherine Blackburn, Scooped (detail), 2017, photos, 24 kt gold-plated beads, seed beads, thread, 12 x 9cm. Courtesy of the artist.

Combining portrait photography with elements from adornment arts, textiles, sculpture, and customary Indigenous art practices, Materialized examines themes of intergenerational memory, familial narrative, and decolonization. By using their craft to reclaim portraiture as a form of self-expression and self-determination, each artist resists the colonial metanarratives contained in settler-made images of Indigenous subjects.

Images left to right: Celeste Pedri-Spade, Shirley’s Tobacco Bag, 2014, Delica beads, brain-tanned moose hide. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Rebecca Bose. 

Joi T. Arcand, Through That Which is Scene, 2014, found objects, photographs, acrylic sheets, wood, glue. Courtesy of the artist.

Through their multifaceted practices, the artists in Materialized individually and collectively raise—and unpack—crucial questions about photography: How can photographs—both archival and contemporary—support personal and familial histories? And how can these same photographs act as the basis for social, political, and conceptual explorations of Indigenous identity when they are put through a process of physical materialization?

Image: Nadya Kwandibens, Shiibaashka’igan: Honouring the Sacred Jingle Dress, 2019, digital photography. Courtesy of the artist.

As a satellite component of this indoor exhibition, Animakee Wa Zhing #37  First Nation artist and recently appointed Toronto Photo Laureate, Nadya Kwandibens’ photograph Shiibaashka’igan: Honouring the Sacred Jingle Dress (2019) will be presented on a public billboard located outside Artscape Youngplace at 180 Shaw Street.

Please join us for the opening reception on April 21, 2023, from 6 PM to 8 PM. A panel with the artists and curator will take place on April 22, 2023,  from 1 PM to 3 PM at Urbanspace Gallery. Capacity is limited, register on Eventbrite.

Opening Reception: April 21, 2012, 6 PM – 8 PM, 401 Richmond Building, Suite 122

Artists Panel: April 22, 2023, 1 PM – 3 PM, 401 Richmond Building, Ground Floor

Location & Accessibility Information

Critical Distance Gallery is located on the ground floor at 401 Richmond, a wheelchair-accessible building with a ramp at the Richmond Street doors, and an accessible washroom on every level. The gallery is equipped with automatic doors and access to exhibitions, artworks, publications, and events is prioritized from development through production for all programs. This exhibition will include visual description. Information on additional access measures will be posted as it becomes available. For further access-related questions, please contact Critical Distance Gallery at info@criticaldistance.ca

Artists & Organizations

Celeste Pedri-Spade is an Anishinabekwe artist from Lac Des Mille Lacs First Nation. She identifies as a “mark maker” who works primarily with textiles and photography. Celeste holds a PhD in Visual Anthropology and is an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at McGill University where she is also the inaugural Associate Provost of Indigenous Initiatives. Her art practice is committed to honouring the women in her life and exploring the tactile and sensuous meanings made possible through creative entanglements with our material environments.

Joi T. Arcand is an artist from Muskeg Lake Cree Nation, Saskatchewan, Treaty 6 Territory, currently residing in Ottawa, Ontario. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with Great Distinction from the University of Saskatchewan in 2006. In 2018, Arcand was shortlisted for the prestigious Sobey Art Award. Her practice includes installation, photography, and design and is characterized by a visionary and subversive reclamation and indigenization of public spaces through the use of Cree language and syllabics. She is currently a student at University nuhelotʼįne thaiyotsʼį nistameyimâkanak Blue Quills and a member of the art and curatorial collective: Wolf Babe.

Catherine Blackburn was born in Patuanak Saskatchewan, of Dene and European ancestry, and is a member of the English River First Nation. She is a multidisciplinary artist and jeweler, whose common themes address Canada’s colonial past which is often prompted by personal narratives. Her work merges mixed media and fashion to create a dialogue between historical art forms and new interpretations of them. Through utilizing beadwork and other historical adornment techniques, she creates space to explore Indigenous sovereignty, decolonization, and representation. Her work has been exhibited in notable national and international exhibitions and fashion runways.

Nadya Kwandibens is Anishinaabe from the Animakee Wa Zhing #37 First Nation in northwestern Ontario. She is an award-winning photographer and a Canon Ambassador. In 2008 she founded Red Works Photography. Red Works is a dynamic photography company empowering contemporary Indigenous lifestyles and cultures through photographic essays, features, and portraits. Red Works specializes in natural light portraiture and headshot sessions plus event and concert photography. Nadya’s photography has been exhibited in group and solo shows across Canada and the United States. She currently resides in Tkarón:to on Wendat, Haudenosaunee, Mississauga of the Credit River & Dish With One Spoon Territory.

Ariel Smith is an award-winning nêhiyaw, white settler and Jewish filmmaker, video artist, writer, and cultural worker. Having created independent media art since 2001, she has shown at festivals and galleries across Canada and Internationally.

Ariel has worked as a programmer/curator for such organizations as Saw Gallery, The Ottawa International Animation Festival, Reel Canada, imagineNATIVE, Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre, and the National Gallery of Canada. Ariel works as the Artistic and Managing Director of Native Women in the Arts and is in the process of completing an MFA in Film Production from York University.

Critical Distance Centre for Curators (CDCC), a not-for-profit gallery, publisher, and professional network devoted to the support and advancement of curatorial inquiry in Toronto, Canada, and beyond.

With a focus on critically-engaged, collaborative, and cross-disciplinary practices, underrepresented artists and art forms, and community outreach and education in art and exhibition-making, Critical Distance is an open platform for diverse curatorial perspectives, and a forum for the exchange of ideas on curating as a way to connect, engage, and inform people and publics across cultures, disciplines, geographies, and generations.

Native Women in the Arts (NWIA) is one of the leading arts organizations in Canada for Indigenous women and other gender-marginalized Indigenous artists working at the intersection of customary and contemporary practices. NWIA serves as a site of artistic exchange, encouraging dialogue between artists and audiences about social, cultural, and political issues and their relationship to artistic expression.

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