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Univ. hangs red dresses as part of REDress Project

Multiple red dresses have been hung around outdoor spaces on campus as a part of the REDress Project, a project launched by artist Jaime Black. The red dress project was created by Black to draw attention to the missing or murdered Aboriginal women across Canada, according to Black’s website.

“Through the installation I hope to draw attention to the gendered and racialized nature of violent crimes against Aboriginal women and to evoke a presence through the marking of absence,” wrote Black in regards to the REDress Project on her page.

The red dresses are hung around campus in discrete locations, according to the REDress Project at Brandeis University page. Students of the “Introduction to Creativity, the Arts and Social Transformation” course have been tasked with hanging the dresses as a part of the installation.

“The dresses call attention to the thousands of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada and the U.S. and ask us to take action in the face of this racialized and gendered violence,” according to the university page

The students in the course will be collaborating with Black in order to “situate and contextualize” the dresses in specific locations around campus, according to the upcoming tab on the University’s Women’s Studies Research Center page. The dresses around campus will act as a re-creation of Black’s REDress Project, according to the page, meant to bring attention to gendered and racialized violence which Indigenous peoples in North America faced.

“Through the absence of bodies, the dresses call forth the woman’s presence,” wrote a post of the Brandeis Fine Arts’ Instagram about the dresses placed around campus. 

Black’s exhibition, between us, will be brought to the Kniznick Gallery— a space for feminist art exhibits at the Women’s Studies Research Center on campus. Black’s work between us will expand on her earlier REDress project and it will be “focused on the scourge of violence against Indigenous women and girls in Canada,” according to the page

Black’s exhibition will focus on elements including water, stone, twigs, bodies and the color red, according to the page. These elements are meant to represent the connection between humankind and the spiritual and natural worlds, according to the page. The pieces in Black’s exhibition are intended to have the viewer think of ways in which they can get involved in fighting against injustice committed against Aboriginal women as well as celebrate the beauty and reverence of women, according to the page. According to Black, women are the weavers of “the threads that bind and sustain us.” 

Black is an artist based in Canada, whose art is rooted in themes of memory, identity, place and resistance, according to the university’s Bio’s page. Black is of Anishinaabe and Finnish descent and has been involved in the Aboriginal art communities serving as a curator for art curriculums and being a teacher, according to her bio. In her art, Black has infused elements that intend to start conversations regarding social and political issues, according to the page, as well as create a space for reflection. 

The REDress project has been featured in Canada and North America in multiple locations including the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in 2019, according to her website. Other venues include the University of Alberta, the University of Manitoba, the University of Ottawa and the University of Winnipeg. 

Black is scheduled to give a lecture at the university on Nov. 9, where she will discuss her exhibit, between us. The event is co-sponsored by Creativity, the Arts and Social Transformation (CAST) and the Women’s Research Center, according to the upcoming events page.  

The curator of the exhibition is Toni Shapiro-Phim (CAST), an Associate Professor of CAST. Shapiro-Phim’s work is focused on the context of art and its relation to violence, genocide, migration and refugees, conflict transformation and gender concerns, according to her bio.

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