Vanessa Dion Fletcher is a Lenape and Potawatomi neurodiverse Artist; her family is from Eelūnaapèewii Lahkèewiitt (displaced from Lenapehoking) and European settlers. She uses porcupine quills, Wampum belts, and menstrual blood to reveal the complexities of what defines a body physically and culturally. Reflecting on an Indigenous and gendered body with a neurodiverse mind, Dion Fletcher primarily works in performance, textiles and video.
She graduated from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2016 with an MFA in performance and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from York University in 2009. She has exhibited across Canada and the USA at Art Mur Montreal, Eastern Edge Gallery Newfoundland, The Queer Arts Festival Vancouver and the Satellite Art show in Miami. Her work is in the Indigenous Art Centre, Joan Flasch Artist Book Collection, Vtape, Seneca College, Global Affairs Canada and the Archives of American Art.
I employ porcupine quills, Wampum belts, and menstrual blood to reveal the complexities of what defines a body physically and culturally. Reflecting on an indigenous feminist body with a neurodiverse mind, I create art using composite media, primarily working in performance, textiles and video.
I look for knowledge embedded in materials and techniques. Embodiment and visual art allow a reprieve from the colonialism and ableism of English. My interest in communication comes from my lack of access to my indigenous languages (Potawatomi and Lenape) and as a person living with a learning disability caused by issues with short-term memory. This perspective of language and communication is fractured and politicized. Honouring that my body and mind are not separate, I address the socio-political representations and implications of menstruation, reproduction and the biological body.
Backwards and Forwards: Reflections in Porcupine Quills
Location: Aurora Town Hall
100 John West Way
Aurora, Ontario L4G 6J1 Canada
Vanessa Dion Fletcher
Curated by Aram Han Sifuentes
July 27 – September 17, 2022
Opening Reception: Saturday July 30, 2022 | 1:00-3:00pm
Backwards and Forwards: Reflections in Porcupine Quills features recent quillworks (2020-present) by Vanessa Dion Fletcher. These works range from intimate pieces on paper to large mural installations. At the core is a negotiation between the artist’s hands and porcupine quills. She pulls them from the body of a porcupine, stains them using natural and synthetic dyes, handpicks each quill based on its color, shape, and size, and bends them onto paper with thread. The building up of the quills form abstract shapes and lines that are elemental and can be interpreted in multiple ways, where a circle in quillwork can represent time, a color wheel, and a portal all at once. Slowness is an important political aspect of Dion Fletcher’s practice. The making is inherently slow, and the intended experience for the viewers is also slow, where one slowly follows the lines and details of the quillwork and gradations of color. Slowness is also a reflection on neurodiversity, where ‘being slow’ is a derogatory term used for those who are neurodiverse. In emphasizing slowness through porcupine quills, Vanessa Dion Fletcher claims indigeneity in process and craft but also approaches and understandings of neurodiversity and disability. Backwards and Forwards, in title, not only suggests a reverse way of reading, but also a looking back to be able to move forward.
Location: Pen + Brush
29 East 22nd Street, New York, NY
Featuring Artists Amanda Marie Atkinson, Lucy Azubuike, Uma Bista, Maggie Boyd, Paola Martínez Fiterre, Vanessa Dion Fletcher, Lyla Freechild, Zanele Muholi, and Padmini Ray Murray with Joel Johnson & KV Ketan
60 Works / 60 Years: Toronto Outdoor Art Fair at 60
2nd Floor, St. Lawrence Market
95 Front Street East
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Works / 60 Years: Toronto Outdoor Art Fair at 60 exhibit celebrates the history of the Toronto Outdoor Art Fair and features 60 art works from the City of Toronto Art Collection acquired from the fair over the years.
Tangled Art Talks: Vanessa Dion Fletcher
Spurred by calls for disability, justice, and the desire for a more equitable and intersectional future, the Disability Arts Movement is pushing forward with renewed political intention to disrupt conventional understandings of the Arts. Tangled Art + Disability and the AGO, have formed a new partnership to showcase the possibilities of a world that honors access, disability and difference. We are excited to present videos by six artists from the Tangled Art community that showcases their artistic practices in response to artwork in the AGO Collection.
Finding Language: A Word Scavenger Hunt
In this interactive performance, Vanessa Dion Fletcher considers how systemic colonial oppression intersects with her relationship to language as a learning disabled person. Finding Language was performed at the Cripping the Arts Symposium in January 2019 in Toronto.
Learn more from the sponsor: Bodies In Translation
Performance & Discussion
In this program presented by: the Dunlop Art Gallery, watch two performances by neurodiverse artist Vanessa Dion Fletcher. She will perform "Laaweewii-Wiisakiimaa-Pamukwsuw (Purple)" live, followed by recorded performances "Finding Language" and "Talk." She will be joined in conversation with artist Julie Rae Tucker following the performances.