The Red Chair Sessions is an ongoing open-call portraiture series that places importance on the acknowledgement and reclamation of Indigenous lands and the revitalization of Indigenous languages. This series ultimately disrupts colonial narratives, centres Indigenous Peoples who have been here since time immemorial, and reminds us that we are all guests on Indigenous land.
The colour red represents Indigenous Peoples on the Medicine Wheel and, in this series, signifies Indigenous Peoples’ inherent connection to the land and to ancestral bloodlines. Whether sitting on or standing beside the red chair, one feels grounded and firmly rooted; the act itself and the resulting portrait serves as a reminder of our responsibility to steward the lands upon which we walk.
Accompanying each of the 30 photographs is text in the subjects’ respective Indigenous language, or a mix of languages, and can include: names gifted/given in ceremony (written in either English or syllabics), the Nation to which they belong, and the placenames of traditional and Treaty areas that each session occurs. In this way, Indigenous voices are amplified and become a refusal of the colonizer’s language while pointing out the erasure of Indigenous history.
The series is also a celebration honouring the many achievements of Indigenous Peoples and presents a positive perspective for future generations.
Nadya Kwandibens is Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) from the Animakee Wa Zhing #37 First Nation in northwestern Ontario. In 2018, Nadya won the Ontario Arts Council’s Indigenous Arts Award. Jurors stated, “Nadya is an intrepid, ground-breaking and influential artist. She has brought an Indigenous voice to portrait photography that recontextualizes images and shows us our true selves.”
In addition to commissioned works, Nadya delivers empowering photography workshops and presentations for youth, universities, and community groups. She currently resides in Tkarón:to on Wendat, Haudenosaunee, Mississauga of the Credit River & Dish With One Spoon Territory.
Languages: English, Anishinaabe + Anishinaabe Syllabics, Nehiyawak / Cree + Cree Syllabics, Musqueam, Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh, Kanienʼkehá꞉ka, Dene Zhatie, Haida, Tsilhqot’in
Rental Cost: Under $20,000 (USD)
Minimum Rental Period: 8 weeks
Size: Under 1000 sq ft / 93 sq m
Availability: Contact for details
For more information, please contact:
The MUSE: Lake of the Woods Museum, Douglas Family Art Centre
Shelby Smith, Art Centre Curator