REDress Project: An Absent Art Installation with a Present Purpose

Métis interdisciplinary artist Jaime Black presents her “The REDress Project” for the first time in the U.S. at the Riverwalk of the National Museum of the American Indian’s landscape this month (March).

The outdoor art installation of hanging lifeless red dresses evokes a presence… through absence.  Black’s intention is to draw attention to missing or murdered Indigenous women.

“The color red has many meanings. It is the color of life, of blood, and a symbol of the feminine. The violence, both personal and systemic, against Native people is also symbolized by that color,” she shared at an open house for the exhibit.

Not simply to draw awareness to the cause — or as a commemoration of Women’s History Month — The REDress Project” also positions the Indigenous female body as a target of colonial violence while reclaiming space for an indigenous female presence.

“I’m hoping that work using the red dresses is a way for us to support families… working together with them as well, just showing them that they’re not alone in this.”

The red dresses included in the Museum’s exhibit have been collected through community donation, and installed at several Canadian galleries, museums and universities since 2011.

*Images courtesy National Museum of the American Indian