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Shelley Niro: Boundless from the series Below the 6

October 7, 2022 - February 19, 2023

Second Floor

Boundless gathers photographs from several series spanning much of Shelley Niro’s long career. All demonstrating Niro’s reflection on her community and relationship to landscape. Striking large black and white photographs of fossilized rock, titled Resting Place of Our Ancestors (2019) generate a moment of curiosity for life before human existence. Final Moments Thinking of You (1998), a multi-panel installation of colour photographs that reference the medicine wheel teachings, are placed on a wall that’s been painted the same colour as the flag of the Haudenosaunee confederacy. Archived family photos feature a triptych of her mother embedded on a blooming rose called Chiquita (2020) alongside more intimate hand-tinted photographs of her family selected from the series Mohawks in Beehives (1991).  She invites attention through her use of scale, colour and often playful humour. Their scope still remains as powerful in generating images of joy and reflection. Through her breadth of imagination, the works reflect her life and loved ones, honouring and acknowledging who they are as real people.

Shelley Niro describes her approach to making as “sculptural”. She is a builder. Niro has made a unique visual language in her practice that incorporates personal and cultural references, often alongside the language and images of pop culture. She works fluidly across mediums: photography, film, large-scale installation, painting, beadwork, and printmaking. Known for her singular humour and ability to craft memory, story, and experiences to build and retell narratives from her distinct point of view.

How do we tell our stories? How can we talk about things? How do we bring something into being? Niro shapes a world where love, kinship, compassion and connection to land and knowledge anchor her boundless imagination. She challenges and dismisses perceived expectations and creates spaces for her subjects. As audiences for her work, we are asked to take in the stunning breadth of her creative attention.

This exhibition forms part of Below the 6, a series of exhibitions that focuses on artists based in Southwestern Ontario whose practices are socially and politically minded. Below the 6 is curated by TD Curatorial Fellow Czarina Mendoza and is generously supported by TD Bank Group.

Meet the Artist: Shelley Niro

Shelley Niro (b. 1954)is an Artist and Filmmaker from Brantford, Ontario. She is a member of the Turtle Clan, Bay of Quinte Mohawk from the Six Nations Reserve. She holds a degree from Ontario College of Art and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Western Ontario. Niro has exhibited across Canada and has work in collections of the Canada Council Art Bank, Canadian Museum of History, and Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography. Her award-winning films have been screened in festivals worldwide, and she presented her work at the 2003 Venice Biennale.

Meet the Curator: Czarina Mendoza

Czarina Mendoza (b. 1991) is an artist currently based in Windsor, Ontario. She is interested in the construction of identity, looking at what it means to preserve and reciprocate cultural legacy. Since receiving her Honours Bachelor of Arts in Media Art History & Visual Culture at the University of Windsor in 2019, she has shown work and has assisted as an arts administrator at artist-run centres in Windsor, and Hamilton, Ontario.


Shelley Niro, Chiquita, 2019, digital print on paper, Courtesy of the artist

Shelley Niro, Unity, digital print. 2008. 26.5 x 60 inches

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