Sho Sho Esquiro: Doctrine of Discovery

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Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art presents the Canadian premiere exhibition of Sho Sho Esquiro: Doctrine of Discovery from September to June.

Sho Sho Esquiro: Doctrine of Discovery
Top Left: Grace(2016),Also called Moma yeh estsu yeh Giyets’ edih – Honouring our Mothers and Grandmothers. Lynx paws, recycled Indonesian prayer scarves, 24K beads, brocade upholstery fabric, twill edging. Photograph courtesy of the artist. Bottom Left: Sho Sho Esquiro(2016).Photograph by Matika Wilbur. Right: They Stole the Children from the Land Notre Dame, Paris, France(2019).

Sho Sho Esquiro: Doctrine of Discovery

  • When: September 22, 2021–June 5, 2022
    • Open Wednesdays to Sunday 11:00am to 5:00pm
  • Where: Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art (639 Hornby St, Vancouver)
  • Tickets: Book online in advance or upon arrival for $6-$13.
    • Free admission from 2:00pm to 5:00pm every first Friday of the month thanks to the Downtown Vancouver BIA. Free for current SFU students. Free for Indigenous Peoples and Gallery Members.

The solo exhibition by award-winning designer, artist, and activist Sho Sho Esquiro showcases meticulously crafted couture gowns, raw textiles, paintings and photographs to celebrate the beauty, strength and resilience of First Nations communities in the face of historical and ongoing trauma.

Curated by Miranda Belarde-LewisSho Sho Esquiro: Doctrine of Discovery inspires conversations around genocidal colonial practices, confronts the theft and murder of Indigenous women and children, and honours activists on the front lines.

“This powerful and vital exhibition of contemporary fashion sheds an urgent light on the devastating impacts of the Doctrine of Discovery, an international law which influenced European settlers to believe they had dominion over the lands and Indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere,” says Belarde-Lewis.

“Through Esquiro’s artful storytelling using a variety of materials, including those sustainably sourced from her Yukon homelands, visitors are asked to confront and learn about challenging truths in Canadian history that still have catastrophic consequences to this day. These truths showcase how systemic and structural racism caused persistent and deliberate Indigenous rights violations. Given the ongoing recovery of Indigenous children at the sites of former residential ‘schools’ coupled with the ongoing fight against corporate extraction of natural resources, Sho Sho Esquiro: Doctrine of Discovery shares a critical perspective on the lived experiences of First Nations communities in unexpected ways.”

The exhibition features a striking collection of the artist’s contemporary gowns and outfits, crafted using trade cloths, furs, leathers, hides, beads and shells sourced directly from the Yukon. Esquiro’s gowns have been shown at New York Fashion Week and she represented Canada at Jessica Mihn Anh’s Fashion Phenomenon atop the Eiffel Tower. The exhibition depicts her deeply personal connection to the beauty of the Yukon’s physical landscape, as well as the intricate and sustainable textile practices of Esquiro’s ancestors. Trade cloth and furs serve as the basis and inspiration for Esquiro’s remarkably detailed gowns and offer further commentary on the dwindling access to natural and land-based materials for her clothing, due to extractive industrial practices.

The exhibition is enhanced through several multimedia elements, including four paintings honouring family and community members who are residential school survivors and victims; a collection of personally curated historical photographs from her own family archives, depicting the customs and cultural practices of her ancestors; as well as video installations showcasing various fashion shows and interviews with the artist.

A series of ancillary events will support Sho Sho Esquiro: Doctrine of Discovery, including the Bill Reid Gallery’s exhibition opening on September 21 at 6:00pm, which will take place on Facebook Live as well as in-person for a limited number of registered attendees.

Throughout the exhibition run, several curatorial tours will be offered; as well as workshops related to clothing, weaving, and textiles; and an artist talk. A 60-page, full-colour catalogue with curator and guest essays will be published in mid-November.

Profoundly inspired by her Canadian Yukon upbringing, artist Sho Sho Esquiro (Kaska Dena/Scottish/Cree) combines the inspiration of traditional Indigenous textiles and modern urban culture to create art through the medium of fashion. She devotes hundreds of hours into the creation of each stunning garment, in reflection of Indigenous teachings to treat all materials sourced from the earth with respect. Her award-winning collections have been shown in Canada, New York, Paris, and Santa Fe, and are sought after by museums across North America.

Miranda Belarde-Lewis (Zuni/Tlingit) is the Joseph & Jill McKinstry Endowed Faculty Fellow in Native North American Indigenous Knowledge and an assistant professor at the Information School, at the University of Washington. Her work highlights and celebrates Native artists, their processes, and their exquisite works. As an independent curator, she has worked with tribal, city, state and federal museums to create Native-focused educational programming, publications, and art exhibitions.

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