Brown Skin Before Red presents two bodies of work. In Sleepwalking, items often sold as metonymic simulations (souvenirs) of First Nations culture are recontextualized. Vickers recreates moccasins and blankets with materials that point to current social and cultural conditions in urban First Nations life and combines them with personal artefacts. Her painting series Supernatural Indianreinterprets the copper plate photographic portraits of First Nations peoples taken/constructed by Edward Curtis in collaboration with his subjects. Vickers transforms the source images into powerful interrogations of nostalgia, self-identification, the truth-value invested in photography and the irretrievable losses of pre-contact identity and meaning inflicted upon First Nations cultures by European colonization.
Charlene Vickers is an Anishinabe artist born in Kenora, Ontario, raised in Toronto, and currently based in Vancouver BC. She attended ECI (Studio 94’) and SFU (Critical Studies 98’) and exhibits across Canada and the United States. This is her first solo exhibit on the West Coast.