Installation of red dresses at Kluge-Ruhe, 10 am – 4 pm
May 5 is known in First Nations communities as “Red Dress Day,” drawing awareness to the thousands of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives whose tragic disappearance is a daily heartbreak for their families and communities. The movement started in Canada where Jaime Black, a multidisciplinary artist of mixed Anishinaabe and Finnish descent, originated The REDress Project in 2010. Installing hundreds of red dresses in locally-specific landscapes, including forests, parks, apartment buildings, and museums, draws attention to the disappearance of women, girls, and two-spirits, a loss that is both individual and collective. Black said, "People notice there is a presence in the absence.” Since her first installation of red dresses in Winnipeg, Black has brought the project to a variety of locations in Canada and the USA, including the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in Washington DC in 2019. Jaime Black has given Kluge-Ruhe permission to present a community-driven installation of red dresses in the trees surrounding the museum.
Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives (MMIR) is one of the most pressing ethical issues of our time. Although statistics on gender-based violence are difficult to collect, the data are chilling. According to the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women, four out of every five Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirits will be affected by violence in their lifetimes, and Native women are murdered at a rate that is ten times higher than that of white women. Kluge-Ruhe, in partnership with the Native and Indigenous Relations Community at UVA, offers this installation and lecture to invite faculty, staff, students, and community members to better understand the history and present of gender-based violence and to participate in local, regional, and transnational conversations on MMIR. Art and education are two parts of a long-term solution to a deeply-entrenched problem.
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