Visiting Artist Lecture Series 2022-2023

VALS 2022-2023: Working towards Indigenous Sovereignty

Indigenous sovereignty is a long-established statement of Indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination. By working towards autonomy and recognition as sovereign authority of the land, Indigenous sovereignty works to undo colonial narratives and assumptions of land ownership here in what is now called Canada. Each of us play a role in this goal, with much of the work beginning in an education on what Indigenous sovereignty looks like and how we can work towards it. For VALS 2022-2023, we will learn from Indigenous artists on how this work is manifested through their respective practices. 

This Visiting Artist Speaker Series is co-presented with the Doris McCarthy Gallery. 

Summer 2023 Program

Katherine Takpannie: May 31, 1-2pm (Online)

🔗 U of T community: Visit calendar on to register
🔗 Public registration through Eventbrite.

Graphic for the artwork, Sedna | ᓴᓐᓇ #6. On top of the image is a photograph of a woman with long dark green/blue hair lying on her stomach on the snow. The woman’s full body is in frame wearing a mermaid tail with black fabric on the side while her shoulders are exposed. There are plumes of grey, blue, and purple smoke coming from her head.
Katherine Takpannie, detail, Sedna | ᓴᓐᓇ #6, 2021, courtesy Olga Korper Gallery.

Katherine Takpannie is an urban Inuk artist and writer, whose family is originally from Nunavut and continues to hold strong ties to its land and community. Working primarily with photography, Katherine captures performative and political gestures, set against both natural and built environments, including intimate portraits of women. She honours the Inuit worldview through her lens, using the medium to reclaim her identity, explore her lived experiences, and assert a vision that is strongly grounded in social accountability and unity.

Winter 2023 Program

Nishina Shapwaykeesic-Loft: February 1, 1-2pm
Bonnie Devine: February 8, 1-2pm
Ruth Cuthand: February 15, 1-2pm (Online)
Nicole Roessel Neidhardt: March 1, 1-2pm

📍In-person artist talks will take place in AA304, Arts & Administration Building, U of T Scarborough. All are welcome!
🔗 U of T community: Visit calendar on to register
🔗 Public registration through Eventbrite.

Nishina Shapwaykeesic-Loft is a Kanien’kehá:ka woman from Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory. She is a multi-disciplinary artist in a wide spectrum of mediums. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts with Honours from York University in Theatre Production and Design.
She works within the theatre industry with a specialization in costuming. Her past works include the Costume Designer/Coordinator for The Way of The World, An Octaroon, Phyllis Wheatley Creation,The Marriage of Figaro, African Cargo and Olaudah Equiano Creation.
She is a mural artist working within the city as a member of the RUN Collective. An installation piece was just installed at Queen St. for the “High Praises” Project which features the Kanien’kehá:ka language. She worked with StART as a project coordinator for multiple projects and as an artist for the Richmond Street Cycle Track Barrier Project. She currently works at imagineNATIVE Media + Arts Festival in Operations. She continues to grow within her field and explore new opportunities.
Image: Creation Story, 2021. Courtesy of the artist

Bonnie Devine is a prominent Anishinaabe, (Ojibwe) artist, writer, and educator. An off-reserve member of the Serpent River First Nation, Devine applies Ojibwe history and storytelling traditions to drawing, painting, sculpture, site-specific interventions, performance, and video. Her solo exhibitions include Stories from the Shield, 2002, The Tecumseh Papers, 2013, La Rábida, Soul of Conquestan Anishinaabe Encounter, 2016, and Circles and Lines, Michi Saagiig in 2018. Devine’s installation and mural Battle for the Woodlands was included in Anishinaabe Artists of the Great Lakes at the Art Gallery of Ontario in 2014. She is an Emerita Associate Professor at the Ontario College of Art and Design University and is the founding chair of the school’s Indigenous Visual Culture Program. She received a Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts in 2021.

Image: Anishinaabitude, detail from Battle for the Woodlands, 2014, 2015. Courtesy of the artist

Watch the recorded lecture with Bonnie Devine.


Ruth Cuthand is a mixed media artist of Plains Cree and Scottish ancestry, whose practice includes painting, drawing, photography, and beadwork. Through her powerful aesthetics balancing political invective and humour, her work challenges mainstream perspectives of colonialism and relationships between settlers and Indigenous people. Her work is featured in many collections, including the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Ontario and the MacKenzie Art Gallery. In 2013, she was recognized with a Lieutenant Governor’s Arts Award. Ruth Cuthand lives and works in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

Image: Anxiety, 2022, glass beads, thread, backing. Courtesy of the artist and Art Placement.

Nicole Roessel Neidhardt is a Diné (Navajo) multidisciplinary artist and illustrator of Kiiyaa'áanii clan on her mother’s side and a blend of European ancestry on her father’s side. Her Diné family is from Round Rock, Arizona and she grew up in Santa Fe, New Mexico on Tewa territory. She received her Master of Fine Arts from OCAD University and her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Victoria. Neidhardt’s Diné identity is the heart of her artistic practice where she explores Indigenous Futurisms, Diné Storytelling, and children’s book illustration. She works in a variety of media and contexts such as: digital art, mylar stencilling, installation, mural painting and design, hand-poke tattooing, and facilitating community-engaged art. Neidhardt is also the co-founder of the Groundswell Climate Collective.  Her recent illustrated books include: When We Are Kind, What Your Ribbon Skirt Means to Me: Deb Haaland’s Historic Inauguration, and Braiding Sweetgrass for Young Adults.
Image: Detail of Diné Time Traveller, Hayden, from Stories Held in a Time Traveller’s Hogan, 2021. Courtesy of the artist

Fall 2022 Program:

Jason Lujan: Tuesday, September 27, 1-2pm
Susan Blight: Tuesday, October 18, 1-2pm
Ange Loft: Tuesday, November 15, 1-2pm & Workshop, 4–6 pm (workshop open to students only)

Jason Lujan is originally from Marfa, Texas. As an artist, he creates tools for understanding and interpreting the processes by which different cultures approach each other as a result of travel and communication and are later homogenized. Largely integrating visual components rooted in North American and Asia, the work focuses on the possibilities and limitations of the exchanging of ideas, meanings, and values, questioning the concepts of authorship and authenticity.

“I am interested in interdisciplinary and trans-cultural crossovers between revitalization of historical methods, materials, and approaches combined with daily living in the present. Just as previous generations of Indigenous artists responded to the introduction of modern art making materials and methods to record, recode, and reframe traditional ideas and new ideas, my own works emphasize transitive zones involving the processes of the unfamiliar becoming familiar, or the unfamiliar being made familiar.”

Recorded lecture:


Susan Blight (Anishinaabe, Couchiching First Nation) is an interdisciplinary artist working with public art, site-specific intervention, photography, film and social practice. Her solo and collaborative work engages questions of personal and cultural identity and its relationship to space. Susan is co-founder of Ogimaa Mikana, an artist collective working to reclaim and rename the roads and landmarks of Anishinaabeg territory with Anishinaabemowin and is a member of the Indigenous Routes artist collective which works to provide free new media training for Indigenous youth.  Susan received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography. a Bachelor of Arts in Film Studies from the University of Manitoba, and a Masters of Fine Arts from the University of Windsor in Integrated Media. She is currently a PhD candidate in Social Justice Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (UofT) and her dissertation looks at the visual and spatial formations of Anishinaabeg geographies of resistance.  Susan is Delaney Chair in Indigenous Visual Culture at OCAD University and an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Arts & Science.

Recorded lecture:



Ange Loft is an interdisciplinary performing artist and initiator from Kahnawà:ke Kanien'kehá:ka Territory, working in Tsi Tkarón:to. She is an ardent collaborator, consultant, and facilitator working in arts based research, wearable sculpture, theatrical co-creation and Haudenosaunee history. She teaches Story Creation at Centre For Indigenous Theatre (2021) and was the Artist in Residence  at OISEE/ JHI (2021). She’s creating new performance work as Centaur Theatre’s Artist in Residence (2021-22) and as director of the Talking Treaties initiative with Jumblies Theatre + Arts, with projects including; experimental film and workshop series Dish Dances (2021) in collaboration with Centre for Indigenous Theatre, video and installation By These Presents: “Purchasing” Toronto (2019), and outdoor promenade theatre Talking Treaties Spectacle (2017, 2018). Upcoming collaborations include Black Creek Pioneer Village’s Changing the Narrative initiative (2022) and placemaking with the Canadian Centre for Architecture (2022). Ange’s been the Associate Artistic Director of Jumblies Theatre + Arts since 2015 and a touring vocalist and designer with Yamantaka//Sonic Titan since 2012.

Past works include; Audio and Sculpture A Foreign Source of Extraordinary Power (2018) for MOCA Toronto, Audio Art and Activation Electric Prop and Hum Freestyle Variations with Maria Hupfield (2019) at the National Gallery of Canada, On Tuesday: A Musical Neighbourhood Tour with composer Kyle Brenders (2017), and staged audio play HOOFS (2019). Incorporated design and large scale image construction lead her direction for collaborative works with ReCollection Kahnawake (2016, 2018),  all you can hold with electronic act LAL (2015, 2019), and After the Fire: Based on Interviews about Idle No More (2014, 2016). 

She’s holds advisory roles with Native Women In the Arts as a Board member (2021), OCAD University’s Indigenous Education Council (2021), City of Toronto Indigenous Arts and Cultural Advisory for the Indigenous Arts and Culture Partnerships Fund (2018), and Toronto Biennial of Art Advisory Council (2018-21).