An outdoor display of hundreds of red dresses is coming to St. Catherine University in late October. The stark installation visualizes the absence of Indigenous women and girls who have gone missing or been murdered.
Since 2009, the REDress Project has traveled Canada and the globe to highlight what has been described as widespread yet underreported violence disproportionately impacting Native women. Last December, Minnesota’s new task force for Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women reported that from 2010 to 2018, 8% of the state’s murdered women and girls were Indigenous—a group that makes up only 1% of Minnesota’s population.
In April, Jaime Black, the Métis artist behind the installation, told Vogue, “I feel like it was given to me, as a vision. I saw it. I created it. And it’s grown. It’s like having a child and then it goes into the world. It grew beyond anything I could ever have imagined.”
The project had its first U.S. exhibition in 2019 at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. At St. Catherine, the display kicks off a two-year theme of “Indigenous Thought Leadership” as part of the university’s Integrated Learning Series, a relatively new program that aims to “partner academics with activism.”
According to a press release, the installation “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 REDress Project will appear in the St. Paul campus quad from Oct. 23 to Nov. 14. A planned artist talk will take place Nov. 10, 7-8 p.m.