Thunder Bay Art Gallery Presents #nofilterneeded
By Deanne Gagnon
#nofilterneeded celebrates the early works of the Native Indian/Inuit Photographers’ Association (NIIPA). The exhibition, presented by the McMaster Museum of Art, focuses mainly on photography from their formative early years, 1985 and 1986, providing a beautiful, unfiltered view into the lives of Indigenous peoples. It also offers a rich history and insight into NIIPA. The formation of the organization marks a pivotal time in Indigenous art history, as it brought together Indigenous photographers from across Canada and the United States.
“The exhibition is not only a celebration of individual achievement, but celebrates the collective achievement as well, the achievement being the organization itself,” says Rhéanne Chartrand, curator of Indigenous Art at McMaster Museum of Art, who stumbled across scattered references to NIIPA while working on her first two exhibitions. Piecing together the history has become her passion project.
“Many of the NIIPA members went on to become some of the most prominent artists, art administrators, and leaders within the Indigenous community at large,” she says. “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.”
Thunder Bay played an important role in supporting the growth of NIIPA and hosted the second annual NIIPA conference, FOUR CORNERS, in 1986. The only image to date of all the original NIIPA members was taken in front of Thunder Bay Art Gallery. “This exhibition responds directly to the Gallery’s mandate to exhibit works by Indigenous artists. As the only public art gallery in Northwestern Ontario, the Thunder Bay Art Gallery is committed to fostering and presenting contemporary artistic practices since 1976,” says Andrea Terry, curator at Thunder Bay Art Gallery.
#nofilterneeded is presented in partnership with the Indigenous Art Centre and Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, and 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 Steward, and Jeff Thomas. It can be viewed at Thunder Bay Art Gallery from April 11 to May 19.