top of page
Gallery Press Release (Instagram)-2.jpg

of indigenous art

Restaurant Table


Sophie Lavoie

Curator, The Muse, Douglas Family Art Centre

Muse logo colour.png

A photograph by Nadya Kwandibens is a powerful image that celebrates the

contemporary Indigenous spirit while honouring past generations.

Artists are, in many ways, the eyes of society – their artwork reflects the state of their time. "Indigenous cosmologies, our world-views and philosophies have much to offer current and future generations,” says Kwandibens. “As an artist, to be a part of the continuation of that process is really meaningful.”


Her work’s intent is to elicit a shift in perceptions of First Nations people. “My work is deeply connected to Indigenous people and who we are. That’s always been the main goal behind my work: to have my photography be an accurate representation and depiction of who we are as Indigenous Peoples – as Nations across Turtle Island [North America] – to eradicate negative stereotypes by highlighting our complexities, our realities and our resistance to ongoing colonialism.”


Kwandibens is an Anishinaabe photographer from the Animakee Wa Zhing #37 First Nation on Lake of the Woods in Northern Ontario. She has spent more than a decade travelling North America, offering her lens to those First Nations people who want to share their stories.


The Red Chair Sessions is a portraiture series representing Indigenous identity and the powerful connection that binds people to land. "We are visitors to different Indigenous Nations and treaty areas. The red chair represents our bloodlines and our connection to the land and where we come from,” explains Kwandibens. Each subject chose the location of their portrait, what they are wearing, and what they wish to represent in an expression of individual spirit. Collectively, the series is a testimony to the beauty, resilience, and strength of First Nations people and a challenge to a non-Indigenous audience to become aware of any conscious or subconscious assumptions they have of Indigenous peoples.

True reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples requires an

exchange of experience. That exchange often happens through the sharing of stories and therein lies the important role of art galleries in the journey to reconciliation. Viewers are given the opportunity to engage in a dialogue of perspectives and ideas with the artist. Through her captivating visual narrative, Kwandibens creates a listening and holding space in which we acknowledge the past and create a willingness to learn from it. Her portraits encourage the opening of our collective heart.

“We, as Indigenous people, are often portrayed in history books as Nations once great; in museums as Nations frozen stoic; in the media as Nations forever troubled. These images can be despairing; however, my goal seeks to steer the positive course. If our history is a shadow, let this moment serve as light. We are musicians, lawyers, doctors, mothers and sons. We are activists, scholars, dreamers, fathers and daughters. Let us claim ourselves now and see that we are, and will always be great, thriving, balanced civilizations capable of carrying ourselves into that bright new day.”

- Nadya Kwandibens

bottom of page