The REDress Project

Did you know that Acadia University has an Art Gallery in the Beveridge Arts Center (BAC)? If you have not yet heard of the gallery or if you have not been there, I fully encourage you to visit and take advantage of its exhibitions and programming.

Currently on display is The REDress Project by First Nations Artist Jaime Black. This captivating exhibit is aimed at bringing awareness to the issue of missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canada. Jaime Black started this exhibit in Winnipeg and has since travelled throughout West and Central Canada, making appearances at a number of universities. This is, however, the first time REDress Project has made its way out east, now on display at the Acadia University Art Gallery until November 29th.

As artist Jaime Black describes, “Through my ongoing installation, The REDress Project, I have placed the absence of the body as central to the work. This work involves empty red dresses installed ‘floating’ in public space as a spectral reminder of the hundreds of murdered or disappeared Aboriginal women across Canada. This installation piece attempts to situate the Indigenous female body as a contested entity and the specific target of colonial violence while reclaiming space for Indigenous female bodies.”

Not only are red dresses hung in the gallery space, but there are also dresses located outside the BAC, hanging in the trees. Many students and visitors who have walked passed the Art Gallery are pulled in by the eeriness and emptiness that the dresses convey, while others are drawn simply by curiosity of the dresses themselves. One visitor described her experience in the exhibit as “a sad dance” as she walked around the dresses. The REDress Project can be overwhelming, as it deals with a very difficult topic, but it allows the viewer to contemplate the issue in an encouraging environment.

Though many visitors have commented on the effectiveness of the red dresses that hang outside the BAC on the trees, it seems that a few others did not feel the same. Within only a few days of the exhibit being up, two dresses have been stolen from the trees and another was torn apart. This has been very sad, not just because of the destruction of the work, but the fact that the dresses symbolize missing/murdered women’s bodies. We encourage anyone who knows anything about the disappearance to bring information to the Acadia University Art Gallery. If you are in possession of one of these dresses, we ask that you bring it to the Gallery (no questions asked). These dresses were collected by the artist Jaime Black to help the public explore the issue of missing and murdered Aboriginal women, and as students of Acadia University we must do our best to make sure this issue/exhibit is respected.

I would personally like to thank the anonymous donation of three new red dresses, which hung on the trees outside the BAC. This act of kindness was greatly appreciated, as it lifted both the spirits of those working in the Art Gallery and those involved in this exhibition.

If you have not taken a look at the exhibit The REDress Project yet, I encourage you to come and enjoy! The Acadia University Art Gallery is open from Tuesday – Sunday 12-4pm (till 7pm on Thursdays).