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Gardiner Museum presents the Canadian debut of Cannupa Hanska Luger: Every One & Kali Spitzer: Sister

2 years ago

Artists commemorate the murdered and missing Indigenous women, girls, trans, and queer community members

TORONTO—The Gardiner Museum presents the Canadian debut of Cannupa Hanska Luger: Every One & Kali Spitzer: Sister, an installation opening on August 30 that brings visibility to the crisis surrounding murdered and missing Indigenous women, girls, trans, and queer community members.

Made up of over 4,000 clay beads created by hundreds of communities across the United States and Canada in response to artist Cannupa Hanksa Luger’s call to action shared over social media, Every One (2018) re-humanizes the large and abstract data of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, queer, and trans community members by representing each life with a handmade object.

“The object is the echo of the impact, it is what remains after many people have worked with their hands in a collective action of healing and solidarity. While honoring the lives lost, the work also celebrates the effort it takes to collectively affect change,” said Luger.

In addition to drawing on the research of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, Luger embeds a queer and trans narrative into Every One, bringing awareness to the fact that Indigenous LGBTQ+ community members are not included in data collection around this issue despite being impacted at comparably alarming rates.

“The narrative of MMIWQT expands beyond a specific region, and by acknowledging this number and this place and by creating collectively, we can move forward to address MMIWQT in all of our respective homelands, to raise awareness and cultivate policy,” said Luger.

The beads have been fired, stained with ink, and strung together to form a monumental ceramic installation; the pixelated image references and stands in solidarity with Kali Spitzer’s photograph Sister (2016). Both works will be on display in lobby of the Gardiner accompanied by artifacts and photographs documenting the creation of Every One.

“Displaying Sister and Every One in so-called ‘canada’ is very meaningful because the statistics that we have worked from are those from ‘canada’. As an indigenous womxn from ‘canada’, to bring this work here and at this moment is timely,” said Spitzer. “The MMIW Inquiry concluded in June of this year that violence against women, girls, queer, and trans people is a genocide, and yet many ‘canadians’ are unaware of the issue. The pieces are in relation to each other and important to see together, they hold space for each other and reflect one and other. It is important to me that the peoples of this land that are so deeply affected by this genocide are able to be around the works, because it is for them.”

On June 3, 2019, the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls released their final report titled Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. They concluded, among other findings, that the deaths and disappearances of Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people are marked by indifference, and that prejudice and stereotypes about these groups negatively influence police investigations.

In Canada, statistics reveal that Indigenous women and girls are 12 times more likely to be murdered or missing than any other women in Canada. Taken as a whole, the research, recommendations, and personal testimonies form a picture of ongoing Indigenous genocide in Canada.

“Visitors will encounter Cannupa Hanska Luger and Kali Spitzer’s beautiful and powerful works immediately upon entering the Museum. They speak to an ongoing crisis that we must acknowledge, reflect on, and take responsibility for,” said Sequoia Miller, Chief Curator at the Gardiner Museum. “Every One also demonstrates how the act of working with clay and feeling the earth move between our fingers can promote healing. We are honoured to have these works at the Gardiner and encourage visitors to engage with them directly.”

Cannupa Hanska Luger: Every One & Kali Spitzer: Sister will be on display in the lobby of the Gardiner Museum from August 30, 2019 to January 12, 2020.

Visit www.gardinermuseum.com to learn more.


Panel: Visual Art and the MMIWG Crisis

Tuesday December 10, 6:30 – 8:00
Join us for a conversation with artists Cannupa Hanska Luger and Kali Spitzer as they discuss their work and the role of visual art in addressing the MMIWG crisis.


Cannupa Hanska Luger is a New Mexico-based, multi-disciplinary artist. Raised on the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota, he is of Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, Lakota, Austrian, and Norwegian descent. Using social collaboration and in response to timely and site-specific issues, Luger produces multi-pronged projects that take many forms. Through monumental installations that incorporate ceramics, video, sound, fiber, steel, and cut-paper, Luger interweaves performance and political action to communicate stories about 21st century Indigeneity. His work provokes diverse publics to engage with Indigenous peoples and values apart from the lens of colonial social structuring and oftentimes presents a call to action to protect land from capitalist exploits.

Kali Spitzer is Kaska Dena from Daylu (Lower Post, British Columbia) on her father’s side and Jewish from Transylvania, Romania on her mother’s side. She is from Yukon and grew up on the West Coast of British Columbia in Canada on unceded Coast Salish Territory. She is a trans disciplinary artist who mainly works with film – 35mm, 120, and wet plate collodion process using an 8×10 camera. Her work includes portraits, figure studies, and photographs of her people, ceremonies, and culture. Her work has been exhibited and recognized internationally. Spitzer recently received a Reveal Indigenous Art Award from the Hnatyshyn Foundation in Canada and was featured in the National Geographic and Photo Life magazine in 2018. At the age of 20, Spitzer moved back north to spend time with her Elders, and to learn how to hunt, fish, trap, tan moose and caribou hides, and bead. She documents these practices with a sense of urgency, highlighting their vital cultural significance. Spitzer focuses upon cultural revitalization through her art whether in the medium of photography, ceramics, tanning hides or hunting. She views all of these practices as art and as part of an exploration of self.


The Gardiner Museum brings together people of all ages and backgrounds through the shared values of creativity, wonder, and community that clay and ceramic traditions inspire.

The George R. Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art was founded by Toronto businessperson and philanthropist George Gardiner and his wife Helen in 1984, and was established in a building designed by Keith Wagland on the campus of Victoria University in the University of Toronto. The Museum was managed by the Royal Ontario Museum from 1987 to 1996 and then, with an additional endowment from George Gardiner before his death in 1997, became and remains an independent, non-profit museum. The Gardiner’s remarkable building was substantially renovated in 2004 by KPMB Architects.

The Gardiner Museum’s collection of ceramics comprises approximately 4,000 objects, and focuses on specific areas which have been collected in depth. These include the most important collection of European porcelain in Canada, with particular strengths in Meissen, Vienna, and Hausmaler decorated porcelain, as well as a comprehensive collection of figures inspired by the commedia dell’arte. It holds the best collection of Italian Renaissance maiolica in Canada, and a superb collection of English tin-glazed pottery. The Gardiner preserves highly significant collections of ceramics from the Ancient Americas, Chinese blue and white porcelain, Japanese porcelain, and contemporary Canadian ceramics. It also houses a research library and archives, clay studios, award-winning Shop, and a restaurant.

The Gardiner Museum is among the few museums in the world focused on ceramics, and is one of the world’s most notable specialty museums. For more information, please visit: www.gardinermuseum.com.


Media Contact:
Rachel Weiner
Senior Manager, Marketing
Gardiner Museum

Presenting Sponsor

The Reitberger Family

Exhibition Supporters

David W. Binet
Al Pace & Kristin Morch

Programming Sponsors

Lorna Marsden

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