During a recent walk on the campus of Wellesley College, we came across a haunting outdoor installation created by artist Jaime Black. From branches of several mature trees hung red dresses, blowing in the breeze. A nearby plaque identifies the artwork as the REDress Project, which “…works to create space for families of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Persons (MMIP) and their supporters to tell their stories and to find solidarity in the struggle to protect the rights of Indigenous women and girls.” The dresses are a visual reminder of MMIP girls and women who have gone missing or been murdered.
Indigenous women and girls face higher rates of violence than any other group in Canada and the Unites States, the plaque continues, calling for the demands of families and communities to dismantle the colonial system that allows perpetrators to escape justice to be heard.
Jaime Black is a multidisciplinary artist of mixed Anishinaabe and Finnish decent. According to her website, Black’s work, “engages in themes of memory, identity, place and resistance and is grounded in an understanding of the body and the land as sources of cultural and spiritual knowledge.”
The dresses will remain in place until December 21. The project’s placement on campus was funded in part by the college’s Native American Student Association. The REDress Project has been installed in public spaces throughout Canada and the United States.