In­dige­nous artist Shel­ley Niro wins $50,000 Sco­tia­bank Pho­tog­ra­phy Award

The Hamilton Spectator - - A&E - LAU­REN LA ROSE TORONTO —

In­dige­nous artist Shel­ley Niro has won the $50,000 Sco­tia­bank Pho­tog­ra­phy Award.

Niro was named re­cip­i­ent of the lu­cra­tive prize at a gala in Toronto on Tues­day night.

She was se­lected from among a trio of fi­nal­ists, who in­cluded Mon­treal-based pho­tog­ra­phers Ray­monde April and Doni­gan Cum­ming. The two other short­listed artists re­ceive prizes of $10,000 each.

Born in Ni­a­gara Falls, N.Y., and based in Brant­ford, Niro is a mem­ber of the Six Na­tions Re­serve, Bay of Quinte Kanien’ke­haka (Mo­hawk) Nation, Tur­tle Clan.

Niro en­com­passes pho­tog­ra­phy, paint­ing, bead­work and film in her mul­ti­me­dia work, which fo­cuses on chal­leng­ing stereo­typ­i­cal images of in­dige­nous iden­tity and his­tory.

She was the in­au­gu­ral re­cip­i­ent of the Aboriginal Arts Award pre­sented through the On­tario Arts Coun­cil in 2012, and was a 2017 win­ner of the Gov­er­nor Gen­eral’s Award in Vis­ual and Me­dia Arts. Her work has been ex­hib­ited at mu­se­ums and gal­leries across Canada.

Niro’s short film “The Shirt” was pre­sented at the 2003 Venice Bi­en­nale and the 2004 Sun­dance Film Fes­ti­val. She re­ceived sev­eral awards for her 1998 com­edy-thriller “Honey Moc­casin.”

Niro’s 2009 de­but fea­ture film “Kissed by Light­ning,” about a grief-stricken Mo­hawk painter mourn­ing her lost hus­band, won the Santa Fe Film Fes­ti­val’s Mi­la­gro Award for best in­dige­nous film.

In ad­di­tion to the cash award, Niro will have a solo pri­mary ex­hi­bi­tion at the Ry­er­son Image Cen­tre in Toronto dur­ing the 2018 Sco­tia­bank CON­TACT Pho­tog­ra­phy Fes­ti­val. She will also have a book of her work pub­lished and dis­trib­uted world­wide by Ger­hard Steidl.

“Shel­ley’s art pro­vides us with an en­riched view on con­tem­po­rary in­dige­nous life and con­nects us with a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of these com­mu­ni­ties,” jury chair and award founder Ed­ward Bur­tyn­sky said.

Founded in 2010, the Sco­tia­bank Pho­tog­ra­phy Award cel­e­brates the cre­ative vi­sion and ac­com­plish­ments of Cana­dian pho­tog­ra­phers.

The 2016 win­ner, Suzy Lake, has a solo pri­mary ex­hi­bi­tion at the Ry­er­son Image Cen­tre, which is open to the pub­lic free to Aug. 13.


Shel­ley Niro’s sig­na­ture 2003 piece called “The Shirt,” which is made up of nine pan­els, is cur­rently on view at the Art Gallery of On­tario.

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