Racette 275h

Indigenous Photography as Voice and Witness

Friday, 3 October 2014, at 18:30
Concordia University, EV-1.605 (map)

Sherry Farrell Racette

Departments of Native Studies and Women & Gender Studies, University of Manitoba

From the 1920s to the 1960s, James Brady (Métis) was one of the most important political activists in Western Canada.  Most people familiar with Brady’s political career are unaware that he produced a body of over 2000 photographs, in some cases photographing every person living in a community. Brady was only one of the early Indigenous photographers around the world who seized the camera for their own creative and documentary purposes, refuting the position of coerced and uncomfortable subject. The camera has continued to serve successive generations of Indigenous photographers seeking to counter the ongoing appropriation and denigration of Indigenous peoples in the media, give voice to communities, and serve as witness to critical events as they unfold. In addition to Brady, Frarell Racette will also  discuss works by Charlotte Richards (Ngarrindjeri, Australia), Murray Mckenzie (Cree/Metis, Canada), Arthur Renwick (Haisla), Lisa Reihana (Maori, New Zealand), and Tanya Harnett (Nakoda, Canada).

Sherry Farrell Racette, is an interdisciplinary scholar with an active arts and curatorial practice and teaches in the Departments of Native Studies and Women and Gender Studies at the University of Manitoba.  Her scholarly interests include Indigenous art history and art criticism, First Nations and Métis women’s history, museology, and revitalizing and decolonizing art practices. Recent contributions include curating Resistance/Resilience: Métis Art, 1880-2011 (2011); editing the exhibition catalogue Close Encounters: The Next 500 Years (2012); and contributing essays to Changing Hands: Art Without Reservation 3 (2012), Rethinking Professionalism (2012), Manifestations: New Native Art Criticism (2011), The Cultural Work of Photography in Canada (2011), and Art in Our Lives (2010).

Farrell Racette’s arts practice includes beadwork, painting, and textile-based works. She has illustrated children’s books by noted authors such as Maria Campbell (Métis), Freda Ahenakew (Cree), and Ruby Slipperjack (Anishinaabe). She was the 2009–2010 Anne Ray Fellow at the School for Advanced Research, Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is a member of Timiskaming First Nation in eastern Quebec, but was born and currently resides in western Canada.

Image: Tanya Harnett, detail from The Lebret Residential Petroglyphs, 2013. Courtesy of the artist.

Of Related Interest:

Resistance/Resilience: Métis Art, 1880-2011

Close Encounters: The Next 500 Years

Changing Hands: Art Without Reservation 3