EXHIBITION: Materialized

April 21, 2023 - June 3, 2023

Featuring works by Joi T. Arcand, Celeste Pedri-Spade and Catherine Blackburn, with a public art billboard by Nadya Kwandibens
Curated by Ariel Smith and co-presented with Native Women in the Arts in partnership with the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival and Partners in Art.

Opening reception
Friday, April 21, 6 to 8 pm
401 Richmond Building, Suite 122 (Ground floor)

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.

Join us for the Artist Panel, taking place on Saturday, April 22 from 1 to 3pm at Urbanspace Gallery. Information and registration can be found here.

Thank you to our presenting partner, 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.

Artist’s Bios

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 jeweller, whose common themes address Canada’s colonial past that are often prompted by personal narratives. Her work merges mixed media and fashion to create 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 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 headshots 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.

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.

Curator’s Bio

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 galerie 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.

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