Sherry Farrell Racette

Métis/Timiskaming Algonquin/Irish

  • Ancestral Women Taking Back Their Dresses – 1990
  • Gouache and watercolour on paper
  • 50 x 61.7 cm
  • Collection of the Saskatchewan Arts Board, Regina
Ancestral Women Taking Back Their Dresses

The first time I travelled to Europe to visit museum collections, I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of cultural material from across the globe. I was looking for “our stuff” and I found it. When I got back, the first thing people would ask was, "Did you bring them back?" It was difficult to explain, to older people in particular, why I couldn't do that. I couldn't explain it to myself. One day when I was feeling very frustrated, I thought, "The only way we're ever going to get that stuff back is if those women, the artists, just go there and get it." So these are my superheroes, and my imaginary vindication. Our female ancestors fly across the ocean, invade the museums and take back our possessions. The women have blasted the doors of the museum open, thrown their cotton print dresses away, and reclaimed their traditional dresses. Every dress in the painting is a real dress in a museum collection. I felt much better after I finished. By painting this I took something back. I brought them home.

– Sherry Farrell Racette

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