A new exhibition at the McMaster Museum of Art
, #nofilterneeded highlights a significant moment in Indigenous art history the foundation and dynamic early years of the Native Indian/Inuit Photographers Association (NIIPA) in Hamilton, Ontario.
In 1985, a group of Indigenous image-makers came together on James Street South to form NIIPA. Their core objective was 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 elses lens, and that it was time they took control of the image in order to contest and demystify stereotypical representations of Indigenous peoples.
NIIPA provided technical training and networking opportunities for Indigenous photographers at a time when there were few, if any, supports for Indigenous image-makers, said Curator Rhéanne Chartrand.
Though NIIPA was based in Hamilton, the organizations activities, namely its annual conferences, brought together Indigenous photographers from across Canada and the United States. That they managed to find each other across such large geographical distances, amidst so many barriers to Indigenous creative expression, attests to their resourcefulness and dedication to advancing photography as a medium for sharing contemporary Indigenous stories.
Many of the NIIPA members went on to become some of the most prominent artists, arts administrators, and leaders within the Indigenous community at-large, says Chartrand, but few people, both inside and outside the Indigenous arts community, know about NIIPA
#nofilterneeded aims to fill this knowledge gap and honour their efforts.
#nofilterneeded features 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.
The works presented in #nofilterneeded are primarily derived from NIIPAs 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. The Museum has partnered with the Indigenous Art Centre, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, who hold most of the works in their collection.