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