Shining light on the Native Indian/Inuit Photographers’ Association, 1985-1992
Presented in partnership with the Indigenous Art Centre,
Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada
Curated by Rhéanne Chartrand, Curator of Indigenous Art, McMaster Museum of Art
January 2 – March 24, 2018
OPENING RECEPTION: Thursday, January 11, 6 – 8 pm
ARTISTS’ ROUNDTABLE: Thursday, February 8, 6 – 8 pm
by NIIPA founding members: Rick Hill, Yvonne Maracle, Brenda Mitten, Greg Staats.
Featuring works by:
Simon Brascoupe, Dorothy Chocolate, Valerie General, Pat Green,
Rick Hill, Tim Johnson, Joel Johnson, Jimmy Manning,
Martin Akwiranoron Loft, Douglas Maracle, Yvonne Maracle,
Murray McKenzie, Brenda Mitten, Lance Mitten, Shelley Niro,
Jolene Rickard, Greg Staats, Morley Stewart, and Jeff Thomas
In 1985, a group of Indigenous image-makers came together in Hamilton to form the Native Indian/Inuit Photographers’ Association, or NIIPA, with the core objective to promote a positive, realistic and contemporary image of Indigenous peoples through the medium of photography. They felt that, for far too long, Indigenous peoples had been portrayed through someone else’s lens, and that it was time they took control of the image in order to contest and demystify stereotypical representations of Indigenous peoples.
As a member-based organization, NIIPA played a significant role in training and advocacy for Indigenous photographers. Aside from the Society of Canadian Artists of Native Ancestry (S.C.A.N.A.), which incorporated the same year as NIIPA, the organization provided technical training and networking opportunities for Indigenous photographers at a time when there were few, if any, supports for Indigenous image-makers. Few institutions were actively collecting or exhibiting photography as contemporary art during the 80s, much less photography by Indigenous artists. NIIPA filled a much-needed gap by providing a network and platform for Indigenous photographers to show their work and support each other’s art practice.
NIIPA’s founding demonstrates that Indigenous artists are equally adept at adapting to and making use of new technologies to advance Indigenous ways of seeing the world. The works presented in #nofilterneeded are primarily derived from NIIPA’s first two self-produced exhibitions, Visions (’85) and Silver Drum (’86), and provide an unfiltered view into the interests and concerns of beautiful, resilient, and thriving peoples.
#nofilterneeded shines much needed light on a significant moment in Indigenous art history by paying respect to early members of NIIPA and celebrating the momentum of the organization’s early years.
What is your image of Indigenous peoples in Canada?
Note: Research on NIIPA and Indigenous photography from the 1980s is ongoing, and future iterations of #nofilterneeded will seek to add additional works by other NIIPA members from this early period. If you know of any NIIPA members from the 1980s not included in this exhibition, please contact the Curator of Indigenous Art at email@example.com
NEW: Read The Hamilton Spectator article on Native Indian/Inuit Photographers Association exhibition by Graham Rockingham
MCMASTER MUSEUM OF ART
Alvin A. Lee Building
1280 Main St W
Hamilton, ON L8S 4L6
Admission is Free
Museum Hours: Tue/Wed/Fri 11am-5pm, Thu 11-7, Sat 12-5