Anishinaabe photographer Nadya Kwandibens takes a closer look at the entity of the urban Indigenous artist with her photo series entitled “Concrete Indians”.
While sitting on her couch in Toronto, Nadya Kwandibens says she had a revelation. Thinking about Indigenous artists in this contemporary urban setting, she asked herself “What rests at the core of it all and how does one maintain their identity as a cultural Native person in the city?”
Pondering upon the ideas of cultural identity in the city and whether or not it is strengthened or weakened by the conceptualized ideologies of city life for Native peoples, Nadya decided to do something about it with her own artistic prowess. Asking the question “Who are you as a Native person in the city?”, she sent off an email asking Indigenous artists to submit their portrait ideas, and within minutes she was fielding dozens of replies.
Acting as a conduit of artistic expression, Nadya went forth to record the images of dozens of Indigenous artists across Canada, from comedians to musicians to Powwow dancers, she has captured the colourful energies of these Indigenous artists in the light of a contemporary urban setting, while helping the artist to tell their story with an image of Indigeneity.
The name “Concrete Indians” came from a term explained by her father to be what the old people would call the Natives that would come home from the city. Nadya’s roots are with the Northwest Angle #37 First Nation in Ontario, Canada.
Along with the Concrete Indians project that she does on her own time, she is the owner and operator of a company called Redworks Studio who’s main focus is artist portraits as well as other photography initiatives. With Redworks, she tours North America photographing Indigenous artist portraits and is currently working on a calendar and building her portfolio.
For more info on photographer Nadya Kwandibens and her work, check out her website Redworks.ca