Neon NDN

Indigenous Pop-Art Exhibition:

Curated by Jocelyn Piirainen

Opening: Saturday Aug. 13, 7:30pm 
@ SAW Gallery (67 Nicholas St.)
Exhibition Dates: August 13 to September 30

Neon NDN




late 19th Century: from Greek, literally “something new”

In an article titled “Is There an Indigenous Way to Write about Indigenous Art?”, Richard William Hill recently contemplated “in purely practical terms, how would you bracket off Indigenous culture? Where do you draw the line? No more pop culture?” 1

Had certain Indigenous artists bracketed off pop culture, Neon NDN would have been something quite different. In this Information Age, pop culture is everywhere and it’s not surprising many contemporary Indigenous artists engage with popular characters from film, television, video games, comic books, even corporate symbols and brand names. Through interacting with, reclaiming, and repurposing popular culture, Indigenous artists challenge a number of stereotypes and Hollywood tropes that have been set against Indigenous people and culture.

These contemporary Indigenous artists have found ways to embrace pop culture, while at the same time digging around the deep historical roots. While not all are exclusively pop culture oriented, they do challenge the traditional sensibilities and stereotypes surrounding the ideas of what Indigenous art should be.

The pieces all have one commonality about them: they give a sense of levity while still maintaining a lot of wit. They are not just novel but transcend preconceived notions of indigeneity.

1 Richard William Hill, “Is There an Indigenous Way to Write about Indigenous Art?”, Canadian Art, May 25, 2016,

Special Thanks to the Ontario Arts Councils Aboriginal Curatorial Projects

Neon NDN

Curator Biography

Jocelyn Piirainen is an emerging curator with a growing interest in indigenous contemporary art. Her entry into the curatorial world began in with the first ever Indigenous Curatorial Incubator program, where she put together the “UnMENtionables” screening program and helped coordinate the “Memories of the Future” exhibition for the 2015 Asinabka Film and Media Arts Festival.

After graduating from film studies at Carleton University, a contract with the Inuit Art Foundation found her developing her appreciation for Inuit art. Since then, she maintained ties with the Indigenous arts and cultural community. Her work as administrative assistant at the Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health has seen her working closely with community programming.

As an urban inuk, she has developed her experience in service for cultural agencies in the nation's capital. She hopes, one day, to open up an Inuit art gallery and promote our talented Nunavummiut artists.

Neon NDN

List of Artists

Steven Paul Judd

Tanya Linklater

Media art collective AM

(Caroline Monnet & Sebastien Aubin)

Christian Chapman

Kent Monkman

Annie Pootoogook

Nicotye Samayualie

Shuvinai Ashoona

Linus Woods

Sonny Assu

Barry Ace

Rackia Karaitiana

Miki Haka

Natasha Keating

Richard Heikkilä-Sawan

Ludovic Boney

Alison Bremner

Rande Cook

Qavavau Manumie

Every year the Asinabka Festival curates and presents exhibitions of contemporary Indigenous media-art.  This year we are honoured to partner with Gallery 101 and SAW Gallery to present two new exhibitions during August & September 2016.  Both shows will open as a part of a Gallery Crawl on Saturday August 13, with a free Bus* available for guests to travel between Gallery’s.

* Catch the Bus from SAW to G101 at 4:00pm. Catch the return bus from G101 to SAW at 7:00pm

Limited Edition

Christian Chapman (Anishinaabe)

“Asinabka Festival Soup”

22.5" x 29"

Silkscreen on paper


15 Limited Edition Prints for Sale by the Artist.

Available at the Neon NDN Opening on August 13 at SAW Gallery.

* Gallery Crawl: Catch the Bus from SAW to G101 at 4:30pm. Catch the return bus from G101 to SAW at 7:00pm