Kanien’kehaka (Mohawk) artist Shelley Niro has won two awards in the last few months. In February, she was one of eight artists awarded a 2017 Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts for outstanding contribution to contemporary visual arts in Canada. The award comes with a medallion and a $25,000 cash prize. Then in May, Shelley won the Scotiabank Photography Award, which includes a $50,000 cash prize, a career survey exhibition at the Ryerson Image Centre during the 2018 Contact Photography Festival in Toronto, and a book deal with German art-book publisher Steidl.
Dragonfly had the pleasure of working with Shelley on an arts-education project back in 2013. In collaboration with the folks at Centre — an artist-run centre in Hamilton, Ontario, that works with artists and communities on print and media arts projects — we created an educator resource package for teachers, based on Shelley’s outdoor woodcut installation Resting With Warriors and the collection of short films entitled Suite: INDIAN. The education package includes lesson plans for both artworks, background information on the history and Indigenous cultural concepts included in the artworks, integrated curriculum connections matched to Ontario curricula, and post-lesson student self-evaluation forms.
The education package aims to enrich students’ knowledge about contemporary First Nations art and provide non-Indigenous teachers with tools to infuse Indigenous histories, experiences, and perspectives into the provincial curriculum. We workshopped the curriculum with Grade 7 students at Hess Street Elementary School in Hamilton, Grade 8 students at Dr. John Seaton Senior Public School in Hamilton, students in the Grade 9 COMPASS Program at Lynwood Charlton Centre in Hamilton, and with students in Grade 10 at Sir John A. Macdonald Secondary School in Hamilton. The project was funded by the Ontario Arts Council.
You can download the education package here: SeeingWithMemory_TeachersGuide_2013_Final
For more information on the Resting With Warriors installation — including the inspiration behind the work, and the politics of Indigenous representation in Canada — download the curatorial essay here: RestingWithWarriors_CuratorialEssay