Shelley Niro, The Incredible 25th Year of Mitzi Bearclaw, (film still), 2018, colour, sound.
Have you ever witnessed something that shook you to your core? What did you do about it? When Shelley Niro had an experience that struck her, she spoke up in the best way she knew how: by creating her work, The Shirt, on view now on Level 2 in the J.S. McLean Centre for Indigenous & Canadian Art.
On a trip to Houston, Texas for a photography conference, artist and filmmaker Niro (winner of the Governor General’s Award and the prestigious Scotiabank Photography Award), was shaken by the views from her plane's window. She recalls the way the land was partitioned, indicating ownership, and how it reminded her of the complex
history that took place on that land. Upset by this, Niro felt obligated to do something – sparking the inspiration of The Shirt.
Shelley Niro was born in Niagara Falls, New York and grew up on the Six Nations of the Grand River Reserve, near Brantford, Ontario. Through her work, she challenges the expectations placed on Indigenous people by telling their stories from her own perspective.