“RezErect” Curators to Discuss Indigenous Sexuality

Dec. 2 event will focus on groundbreaking art exhibit and Native curatorial practices

image of mountain goat woman

Carriellyn Xwementelot Victor’s “P’q’el’qel (PaK’el’Lul), 2013,” was featured in the “RezErect: Native Erotica” exhibition. It is one of four works that illustrate a Coast Salish story about mountain goat women.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – The co-curators of a groundbreaking exhibit of Native erotic art will discuss the exhibition, Native American sexuality and indigenous curatorial practices at UC Riverside on Tuesday, Dec. 2.

The event begins at noon in Interdisciplinary Building Room 2027, and is free and open to the public. Parking permits may be purchased at the kiosk on West Campus Drive at the University Avenue entrance to the campus.

Gwaai Edenshaw, a Haida artist, and author Kwiaahwah Jones, who is of Haida and Nisgaa descent, curated “RezErect: Native Erotica,” an exhibition that opened in September 2013 at the Bill Reid Gallery in Vancouver, British Columbia, and ran for eight months.

The exhibition received international attention for its “playful, provocative insight into sensuality and sexuality.” It featured works by 27 internationally recognized First Nations artists from the Northwest Coast and central Canada.

“Last year I attended the RezErect exhibit at the Bill Reid Gallery and was completely blown away,” says Michelle Raheja, associate professor of English at UCR. “I had never seen anything like it, in terms of its humorous take on Indigenous gender and sexuality, as well as its staging of important, innovative Northwest Coast art. All I could think of is who are these brilliant curators and how can we bring them to campus?”

Edenshaw, who is known primarily for his metalwork, as well as bone, slate and wood carvings, told the Vancouver Sun that “sex figures prominently in aboriginal stories across the continent, as sexual humor, playful irreverence, spiritual reverence, place names, morality tales or other meanings lost in time. In my world, it’s a safe bet that the laughter coming from that group of grandmothers over there drinking tea is partly triggered by sexual innuendo.”

He is a founding member of the K’aalts’idaa K’ah Storytelling Society and has worked on numerous productions, including “Haidawood,” a stop-animation suite, the RezErect Catalog, and “Beyond Eden,” a musical about totem pole preservation that was staged during the Vancouver Olympics. The Haida Nation is located on islands that span the boundary between Alaska and British Columbia.

“Northwest Coast art can be social, it can be political, can be sexy, it can be all sorts of things because our is a holistic culture,” Jones said in a 2013 interview with the Canadian Broadcast Corp. “There is a lot of eroticism, it’s just never seen very often outside of our community. … Sexuality is something you live with for your whole life. It seems like a shame that people don’t want to talk about it.”

Jones is the co-author of “Gina Waadluxaan Tlu: The Everything Canoe” and the RezErect Catalog.  She was a curator at the Haida Gwaii Museum, where she developed the exhibition “From a Few Weavers:  The Davidson Collection.” The Nisgaa Nation is in the Nass River valley of northwestern British Columbia.

In addition to the campus event, there will be a panel discussion of RezErect at Human Resources Los Angeles (HRLA) on Thursday, Dec. 4, at 8 p.m. that is also free and open to the public. HRLA is located at 410 Cottage Home, Los Angeles. More information is available here.

“RezErect: Native Erotica” is co-sponsored by the UCR departments of Art History, English, Ethnic Studies, Media and Cultural Studies, the Center for Ideas and Society, the Costo Chair in American Indian Affairs, the Queer Lab, Native American Student Association and Native American Student Programs.

Media Contact

Tel: (951) 827-7847
E-mail: bettye.miller@ucr.edu
Twitter: bettyemiller

Additional Contacts

Michelle Raheja
E-mail: michelle.raheja@ucr.edu

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