Claiming Space:
Voices of Urban Aboriginal Youth

Claiming Space:
Voices of Urban Aboriginal Youth

Museum of Anthropology at The University of British Columbia

Cody Lecoy, Lions Gate Bridge, 2013. Acrylic on canvas.
May 26, 2014
Claiming Space: Voices of Urban Aboriginal Youth

June 1, 2014–January 4, 2015

Museum of Anthropology
University of British Columbia
6393 NW Marine Drive
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z2

The Museum of Anthropology (MOA) at UBC presents a unique look at contemporary art viewed through the lens of Indigenous youth in its new exhibition, Claiming Space: Voices of Urban Aboriginal Youth, from June 1, 2014 to January 4, 2015. Curated by Pam Brown, of MOA, with curatorial assistant Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, this thought-provoking, radical exhibition examines the diverse ways in which urban Aboriginal youth identify with their environment—both in urban spaces and ancestral territories.

“Unfiltered and unapologetic, this exhibition unites more than 25 young artists, ages 15–25, from across Canada, the US, Norway, and New Zealand to define what it means to be an urban Aboriginal youth in today’s society,” says MOA curatorial assistant Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers. “In doing so, they challenge centuries of stereotyping and assimilative policies. This exhibit will leave visitors with the understanding that today’s urban Aboriginal youth are not only acutely aware of the ongoing impacts of colonization, but are also creatively engaging with decolonizing movements through new and traditional art forms.”

Claiming Space: Voices of Urban Aboriginal Youth presents a wide-ranging, heavily politicized collection of film, fashion, photography, painting, performance, creative writing, new media, and more. The diversity of works offers a timely and vital understanding of urban Aboriginal youth culture and contexts.

Artists in the exhibition include Alison Bremner (Tlingit), Deanna Bittern (Ojibwe), Jamie Blankenship-Attig (Nlaka’pamux, Secwepemc, Nez Perce, Muskoday Cree), Kelli Clifton (Tsimshian), Jeneen Frei NjootlI (Vuntut Gwichin), Ippiksaut Friesen (Inuit), Clifton Guthrie (Tsimshian), Cody Lecoy (Okanagan/Esquimalt), Arizona Leger (Fijian, Samoan, Tongan, Maori), Danielle Morsette (Stó:lō /Suquamish), Ellena Neel (Kwakwaka’wakw/Ahousaht), Zach Soakai (Tongan, Samoan), Diamond Point (Musqueam), Crystal Smith de Molina (Git’ga’at), Nola Naera (Maori), Kelsey Sparrow (Musqueam/Anishinabe), Cole Speck (Kwakwaka’wakw), Rose Stiffarm (Siksika Blackfoot, Chippewa Cree, Tsartlip Saanich, Cowichan, A’aninin, Nakoda, French, & Scottish), Taleetha Tait (Wet’suwet’en), Marja Bål Nango (Sámi, Norway), Harry Brown (Kwakwaka’wakw), Anna McKenzie (Opaskwayak Cree, Manitoba), Sarah Yankoo (Austrian, Scottish, Algonquin, Irish and Romanian), Raymond Caplin (Mi’gmac), Emilio Wawatie (Anishanabe) and the Northern Collection (Toombz/Shane Kelsey [Mohawk], and the Curse/Cory Golder [Mi’maq]).

Also included in the exhibition are works from the Urban Native Youth Association, Musqueam youth and the Native Youth Program.

About Pam Brown (Heiltsuk Nation) 
Curator, Pacific Northwest, Museum of Anthropology
Pam Brown has worked for the Museum of Anthropology for over 20 years and is well respected for her work with the Native Youth Program in its 35th year. Her collaborative exhibitions with Aboriginal communities include Kaxlaya Gwilas: The Ones Who Uphold the Laws of our Ancestors, and Mehodihi: Well-Known Traditions of Tahltan People. Her 2013 installation Mṇúkvs w̓úw̓áx̌di: One Mind, One Heart, documents Heiltsuk Nation opposition to tankers transporting Alberta tar sands oil through their waters.

About Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers (Blackfoot, Blood Reserve/Sami, northern Norway)
Curatorial assistant, Museum of Anthropology
Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers is an emerging filmmaker, writer, and actor. Her films have screened at numerous international festivals. Most recently, A Red Girl’s Reasoning received various awards including Best Canadian Short Drama at the 2012 ImagineNATIVE Film Festival. As a fellow in the Indigenous Film Fellowship, she recently completed her first feature-length screenplay titled Good Little Indians and was fortunate to have director Chris Eyre (Smoke Signals) mentor her. Her current projects include writing the feature-length screenplay for A Red Girl’s Reasoning and a commissioned short documentary for ImagineNATIVE’s Embargo Collective II.


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Museum of Anthropology at The University of British Columbia
May 26, 2014

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