Powerful new exhibit exploring missing and murdered aboriginal women opens at Ojibwe Cultural Foundation

Artist Tracey-Mae Chambers discusses her installation at the Ojibwe Cultural Foundation during its opening night reception. photo by Robin Burridge

M’CHIGEENG—The Tracey-Mae Chambers exhibit ‘Mine is but a tear in a river’ opened last Wednesday at the Ojibwe Cultural Foundation (OCF) in M’Chigeeng.

The exhibit confronts the issue of missing and murdered aboriginal women in Canada through 1,181 photos of pieces of clothing painted with encaustic paint to replicate the flesh of 1,181 documented cases of missing or murdered aboriginal women in Canada from the last three decades.

The exhibit also includes several shopping carts, painted flat black, and clothing from the photographs installed on the gallery floor as though discarded.

Ms. Chambers was present for the opening of the show last Wednesday and gave tours of the exhibit to the over 40 individuals who attended throughout the evening. The event also included live music from Island artists.

“The opening went very well,” OCF Cultural Tourism Coordinator Mark Seabrook told The Expositor. “At the request of the community we also had a sharing circle to conclude the night which was good.”

Ms. Chambers’ work is incredibly powerful and invokes a wide range of emotions from its viewers.
Ms. Chambers’ work is incredibly powerful and invokes a wide range of emotions from its viewers.

“The exhibit has been going very well,” added Mr. Seabrook. “Through The Expositor article last week and the one in the Sudbury Star we have been getting a lot of people in to see the exhibit. Many of the people are new to the OCF which is great as well. The reviews have been about 70-30—70 percent of people have been finding it really powerful and amazing and for about 30 percent it has been too much, but that’s the thing with a show like this.”

Whether a negative or positive reaction, Ms. Chambers told The Expositor prior to the opening of the show that the point of the exhibit was to get a reaction, any reaction, to bring attention to the problem of murdered and missing aboriginal women and to help encourage action.

“Other shows regarding aboriginal women I had seen were wonderful, but they were pleasant, positive, I wanted to do something more visceral, more confrontational,” Ms. Chambers said. “I wanted to shock. A lot of people have no concept of how bad things are.”

‘Mine is but a tear in a river’ is the first of what Ms. Chambers plans to be a three-part series.

The exhibit is currently divided between the OCF and the Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD). One thousand and thirty-one photos, as well as 300 plus pieces of clothing and eight shopping carts, are installed at the OCF, while 150 of the photos and 60 pieces of clothing and four carts are at OCAD. The exhibit at the OCF will be on display until late fall.

The OCF is open Mondays to Fridays from 9 am to 4 pm. Please call 705-377-4902 for more information.