Shelley Niro: 500 Year Itch at the Art Gallery of Hamilton

First major retrospective highlights Mohawk artist Shelley Niro’s expansive art career with over 100 pieces on view

Shelley Niro, Abnormally Aboriginal, 2014-2017. Colour Inkjet prints on canvas. Collection of the artist

Shelley Niro: 500 Year Itch

On view February 10 – May 26, 2024
at the Art Gallery of Hamilton, Hamilton, Ontario

Winter Exhibitions Opening Celebration: February 24, 2024, 3 – 5pm
Shelley Niro: 500 Year Itch Curators & Artist Talk: February 24, 2024, 2 – 3pm
Exhibition Website

The Art Gallery of Hamilton (AGH) proudly announces the much-anticipated opening of Shelley Niro: 500 Year Itch, the first major retrospective exhibition of the multi-talented Mohawk artist Shelley Niro, based in Brantford, Ontario. This extraordinary exhibition, organized by the AGH, showcases the full breadth of Niro’s prolific career, bringing together over 70 works (some in series, equating to 136 pieces). The exhibition will be open February 10 through May 26, 2024. Join us for the Opening Celebration with the artists on Saturday, February 24, 2024.

Shelley Niro: 500 Year Itch spans four decades of Niro’s photography, film, painting, installation, sculpture and mixed media practice. The exhibition highlights themes she constantly returns to: Matriarchy, Past is Present, Actors, and Family Relations. Niro’s persistent vision is to represent Indigenous women and girls, advocating for self-representation and sovereignty. Her highly empathetic approach moves viewers to understand the issues at hand through her visually impactful and politically powerful manner. She uses parody, feminism, and spirituality to examine identity, and in turn, brings political power to the realm of the personal.

The exhibition features over 70 works by Shelley Niro, some in series (totaling 136 pieces) coming from public and private collections across Canada and the US, including new work to be debuted in Hamilton.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a heavily illustrated 304-page publication designed by Barr Gilmore, including texts by invited authors, in addition to curatorial essays by Lori Beavis, Sally Frater, Adrianna Greci Green, Bryce Kanbara, Madeline Lennon, Nancy Mithlo, and Hulleah J. Tsinhnahjinnie. The catalogue is currently available at the AGH Shop.


Alex Jacobs-Blum, Grieving for my Ancestors, 2021. Digital Photograph. Courtesy of the Artist

Alex Jacobs-Blum: Living and Lost Connections

On view February 10 – May 20, 2024
at the Art Gallery of Hamilton, Hamilton, Ontario
Exhibition Website

Alongside this exhibition the AGH will also be featuring emerging artist Alex Jacobs-Blum with her exhibition Living and Lost Connections. In her first museum solo exhibition, Hamilton-based artist Alex Jacobs-Blum (Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫʼ/ German) uses photography and video to explore themes of continuity and legacy embedded in the ancestral knowledge within her body. Living and Lost Connections will be on view until May 20, 2024.


About the Artists

Born in Niagara Falls, New York, in 1954, Shelley Niro is a member of the Turtle Clan of the Kanien’kehaka (Mohawk) Nation, from the Six Nations of the Grand River territory. Her visual art and film works have been featured across Canada and internationally. In 2009, her first feature film, Kissed by Lightning, premiered at Toronto’s imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival and won the Santa Fe Film Festival’s 2009 Milagro Award for Best Indigenous Film. Her short film The Shirt was presented at the 2003 Venice Biennale and the 2004 Sundance Film Festival. Films include: Honey Moccasin, It Starts with a Whisper, The Incredible 25th Year of Mitzi Bearclaw and a feature film released in 2023, Café Daughter.

In 2019, Niro received an honorary doctorate from the Ontario College of Art and Design, where she completed her undergraduate studies; she was also the 2019 Laureate of the Paul de Hueck and Norman Walford Career Achievement Award for Photography. In 2017, Niro received both the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts and the Scotiabank Photography Award, two preeminent contemporary art awards in Canada. In 2017, Niro also received the Hnatyshyn Foundation REVEAL Indigenous Artist Award, and the Arts and Culture Award from the Dreamcatcher Charitable Foundation. She was the inaugural recipient of the Aboriginal Arts Award presented through the Ontario Arts Council in 2012. She completed her Master of Fine Arts at the University of Western Ontario.

Alex Jacobs-Blum (she/her) is a Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫʼ (Cayuga) and German visual artist and curator living in Hamilton, ON. Her research focuses on Indigenous futurities and accessing embodied Ancestral Hodinöhsö:ni’ knowledge. The core of her practice and methodology is a strong foundation in community building, fostering relationships, empowering youth, and Indigenizing institutional spaces. Her creative process is rooted in storytelling and challenging hierarchical power structures. Alex endeavours to facilitate transformative change infused with love and care.

Alex Jacobs-Blum received a Bachelor of Photography at Sheridan College in 2015, where she was awarded the Canon Award of Excellence for Narrative Photography. Her artistic work has been exhibited at the University of Ottawa, Centre[3] for Artistic + Social Practice, Woodland Cultural Centre, Critical Distance Centre for Curators, and most recently in a group exhibition at The Robert McLaughlin Gallery November 18th, 2023 – April 7th, 2024. She is a member of the Bawaadan Collective.


Key Dates

Shelley Niro: 500 Year Itch: February 10 – May 26, 2024
Alex Jacobs-Blum: Living and Lost Connections: February 10 – May 20, 2024
Winter Exhibitions Opening Celebration: February 24, 2024, 3 – 5pm
Shelley Niro: 500 Year Itch Curators & Artist Talk: February 24, 2024, 2 – 3pm


Acknowledgements

Shelley Niro: 500 Year Itch is organized and circulated by the Art Gallery of Hamilton in collaboration with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI), with curatorial support from the National Gallery of Canada (NGC). Major support for this project is provided by the Canada Council for the Arts and the Terra Foundation for American Art.

We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, and our valued partners.


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