Emerson Lobby Gallery
Portraits in RED
Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women & Girls Painting Project
By Nayana LaFond
January 8 – February 28, 2021
“This series began as a form of healing and a means to cope and process with my own experiences with domestic violence. What began as one painting, “Lauraina in RED”, has become a potentially never-ending project. On May 5, 2020 while in quarantine, I came across Lauraina Bear’s tribute image on Social Distance Powwow (SDP). Feeling inspired by her, I reached out and asked her if I could paint her. I intended to only paint one portrait of this kind. After sharing the work on the SDP Facebook page, the response was overwhelming. I then reached out to Natahne Arrowsmith and asked if I could paint her and her daughter, Yana. Following that piece, I posted an open call asking anyone who would like me to paint them to send me their image and story. I expected to perhaps choose one or two. Within the first 24 hours I received almost 30 images with compelling stories giving me permission to paint. It was then I knew I could not possibly only paint one or two. I needed to paint as many as I could. As of January 6, 2021, I have completed 33 Portraits in RED and have at least 20 more ready to be painted and I anticipate receiving even more. As a survivor, I feel strongly against profiting from these works so I have been sending each person I paint, or that person’s family, a free print. Any profit I make from sales of the originals is spent on the cost of supplies so I can continue this project and the creation of prints which I donate to families and to other fundraisers. This project is a labor of love. It has found me and inspired a mission of raising awareness and honoring the memory of those lost. I hope it helps those still here heal, even if only a very small amount. Perhaps it will help someone still suffering gain the courage to get help. You are not alone, you are not without hope, we are your sisters and we are here beside you.” – Nayana LaFond
NAYANA LaFOND resides in Massachusetts with her daughter Adelaide, where she is a full-time artist and mother. She attended college for fine art and photography at Massachusetts College of Art in Boston. She later dropped out to pursue her passions for art and curation independently. Nayana worked as Chief Curator for the Whitney Center for the Arts for 8 years and has published several articles on art in culture. Her own work can be found in private collections and institutions around the world. Aside from her career in the arts, Nayana is an entrepreneur, owning and operating a small, independent record label and a Café. In 2014, Nayana was diagnosed with Leukemia and underwent a bone marrow stem cell transplant. Her diagnosis changed her outlook on life and she then decided to focus more completely on her art and activism, as a survivor of domestic violence.
Nayana is Anishinaabe from Wikwemikong Unceded Territory, Manitoulin Island in Northern Ontario as well as Abenaki & Mi’kmaq from Three Rivers Quebec, French and German.
Social Distance Powwow Red Jingle Dress Special
January 22 – 24
Facebook Group Social Distance Powwow
Artists Talk & Tour
Tuesday, February 2 | 6 – 7:30pm