Jeff Thomas: The Indigenous Map Maker’s Room


Jeff Thomas: The Indigenous Map Maker’s Room

October 30, 2021 – January 2, 2022
Opening reception: Friday November 5, 2021
To attend, register at

Latcham Art Centre, 2 Park Drive, Stouffville, Ontario L4A 4K1
Hours: Tues/Fri 10-5, Wed/Thurs 10-8, Sat 10-5. T: 905 640 8954
Admission: By donation.

Latcham Art Centre is situated on land that is the traditional home of the Haudenosaunee, Anishinaabe and Neutral People. We recognize and deeply appreciate their historic connection to this place. We also recognize the contributions Indigenous peoples have made in shaping and strengthening this community. We are grateful for the opportunity to meet here and re-affirm our collective commitment to make the promise and the challenge of Truth and Reconciliation real in our community.

Latcham Art Centre is pleased to present the exhibition, The Indigenous Map Maker’s Room featuring the work of Jeff Thomas. Jeff Thomas is a nationally recognized Indigenous photo-based artist, story teller, writer, and curator based in Ottawa, Ontario. Through his work, curatorial practice and written publications he has led major projects at prominent national cultural institutions, such as the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the Woodlands Cultural Centre, the Art Gallery of Ontario, and Library and Archives Canada. Jeff Thomas’s ground-breaking work has solidified his place at the forefront of scholarship in Indigenous histories.


In his photography practice, he examines historical and contemporary views of Indigeneity and addresses the impact of issues such as urbanization, land ownership and historical ways of representation. The exhibition The Indigenous Map Maker’s Room, presents work from his larger photo series, Indians on Tour, which features toy figurines posed in front of national monuments and landscapes. Thomas reframes the stereotypical representation of the figures, presenting them as tourists in a contemporary environment, challenging preconceptions of Indigenous peoples and Indigenous history.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Jeff Thomas on a selection of artwork featured in the exhibition as well as the history of this photo series. In our conversation, we discussed his photography practice, artistic influences and development throughout his career. Thomas discussed how his own identity and experiences have tied into the series:

“As a self-described urban-Iroquois, it was important for me to be able to respond to my own circumstances and ask how does your identity survive in an urban landscape? Also considering the fact that more and more children are being born into urban landscapes and we have to address that. Or else it’s just going to be the continuation of what happened in residential schools, which was erasure. So that was the point of the project, as an example of taking something that is tourist-like or play-like and use them as a focal point in the landscape to create a conversation.”

Thomas recalled how one visitor viewed his work:

“There was one person that looked at one of the works and he said: “I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry looking at it.” I thought that is really the perfect answer, because it brings up both emotions and if that is what you are feeling, then the photograph is doing its thing.”


Latcham Art Centre gratefully acknowledges the Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville and Ontario Arts Council for their generous support of this exhibition. In addition, we thank Sheridan Creative Campus Galleries in Mississauga, Ontario, for lending artwork from their permanent collection.

To view the full interview, click here:

About the Artist

Jeff Thomas (b. 1965) is a nationally recognized photo-based artist, writer, and curator based in Ottawa, Ontario. His work has been exhibited by major institutions globally and is featured in a number of private and public collections including: Bank of Montreal, Toronto; Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, Ottawa; Canadian Museum of Civilization, Quebec; Indian Art Centre, Ottawa; Kamloops Art Gallery, Kamloops; MacLaren Art Centre, Barrie; Art Gallery of Winnipeg, Winnipeg; Museum of the American Indian, Washington; Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne; Museum der Weltkulturen, Frankfurt; National Archives of Canada, Ottawa; Oakville Galleries, Oakville; British Museum, London; Canada Council Art Bank, Ottawa; Ottawa Art Gallery, Ottawa; University of Toronto Art Centre Gallery, Toronto; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; amongst many others.

In 1998, he was awarded the Canada Council’s Duke and Duchess of York Award in Photography, Royal Canadian Academy of Art (2008), The Karsh Award in photography (2008), and the REVAL Indigenous Art Award (2017), Most recently, Jeff Thomas is a recipient of the 2019 Canada Council Governor General Award in Visual and Media Arts presented by the National Gallery of Canada. This is Jeff Thomas’s first solo exhibition at Latcham Art Centre. Jeff Thomas is represented by Stephen Bulger Gallery in Toronto, Ontario.

About Latcham Art Centre

Latcham Art Centre is a public art gallery that inspires the community to engage with arts and culture through dedicated exhibitions of contemporary art that reflect a range of artistic media and the cultural diversity of our province. Latcham Art Centre offers vibrant education programs that cultivate creativity and experimentation through classes, workshops, artist talks, and tours. Latcham Art Centre is located in Stouffville, Ontario, 45 minutes northeast of Toronto with free parking and is accessible via GO Transit. The gallery is free and open to the public.

Latcham Art Centre is wheelchair accessible.

Monday: Closed
Tuesday: 10 am – 5 pm
Wednesday: 10 am – 8 pm
Thursday: 10 am – 8 pm
Friday: 10 am – 5 pm
Saturday: 10 am – 5pm
Sunday: Closed


Photos: courtesy of Dennis Hristovski