EXHIBITION: Materialized

April 21, 2023 - June 3, 2023

Artist(s): Joi T. Arcand, Celeste Pedri-Spade, Catherine Blackburn, Nadya Kwandibens
Curator: Ariel Smith

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.

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?

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.

Programs, Events, and Public Art

Opening reception
Friday, April 21st
6 to 8 pm: Opening reception at Critical Distance, ground floor of 401 Richmond.

Artist Panel
Saturday, April 22nd
1 to 3pm: The four artists of Materialized will present brief artist talks, followed by a discussion moderated by curator Ariel Smith. Urbanspace Gallery, ground floor of 401 Richmond.

Public art: Billboard on Shaw
A public art billboard by artist Nadya Kwandibens will be on view at 180 Shaw Street throughout the run of the exhibition.


Thank you to our partners and funders

Materialized is co-presented with Native Women in the Arts. This program is made possible through the generous support of Partners in Art and Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival. Critical Distance gratefully acknowledges funding support from the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario.


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

About the Curator(s)

Ariel Smith

Ariel Smith is an award winning nêhiyaw, white settler and Jewish filmmaker, video artist, writer, and cultural worker.  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.

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About the Artists

Nadya Kwandibens

Nadya Kwandibens is Anishinaabe from the Animakee Wa Zhing #37 First Nation in northwestern Ontario. In 2008 she founded Red Works Photography, a dynamic photography company empowering contemporary Indigenous lifestyles and cultures through photographic essays, features, and portraits. 

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Celeste Pedri-Spade

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. 

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Catherine Blackburn

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 jeweller, whose common themes address Canada’s colonial past that are often prompted by personal narratives. 

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Joi T. Arcand

Joi T. Arcand is an artist from Muskeg Lake Cree Nation, Saskatchewan, Treaty 6 Territory, currently residing in Ottawa, Ontario. 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. 

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