Vanessa Dion Fletcher

Léa Toulouse
  • Vanessa Dion Fletcher, Menstrual Accessory, installation by Alicia Everett, 2016. Photo: © Vanessa Dion Fletcher
  • Vanessa Dion Fletcher, Relationship or Transaction, 2014. Photo: © Vanessa Dion Fletcher
  • Vanessa Dion Fletcher, Relationship or Transaction, detail, 2014. Photo : © Vanessa Dion Fletcher
  • Vanessa Dion Fletcher, Writing Landscape, performance, 2011. Photo: © Vanessa Dion Fletcher
  • Vanessa Dion Fletcher, Writing Landscape, copper plates, 2011. Photo: © Vanessa Dion Fletcher

A Body of Work

Vanessa Dion Fletcher is a Potawatomi and Lenape two-spirit artist that looks to her ancestry to inspire a powerful body of work. The artist draws upon her role as a woman in a colonial world to create performances that challenge preconceived notions of identity. Dion Fletcher identifies as two-spirit, a term established in the 1990s to represent Indigenous queer individuals with a First Nations spiritual affiliation. Her work incorporates traditional Indigenous materials, her own body, and the natural environment to raise issues that are pertinent to First Nations today.

With#Menstrual Accessory (2016), Dion Fletcher turns an often private female bodily function into a fashionable, public happening. In many First Nations societies menstruation was regarded as a sacred occurrence for young girls becoming women: a rite of passage known as “moon time.” She creates a kit with a pair of white underwear and pink dye, garnished with a pink ribbon. Dion Fletcher challenges the status quo by turning menstruation into a humorous yet important performance.

As a commentary on historical colonial relations, Dion Fletcher created a work titled Relationship or Transaction (2015), a replica of a Western Great Lakes Covenant Chain Confederacy Wampum Belt made out of Canadian and counterfeit $5 bills in place of traditional purple and white beads. For the Lenape peoples, Wampum belts were exchanged to symbolize a treaty or relationship between nations. The artist replaced beads with contemporary Canadian currency to provoke dialogue about the -fraught relationships between First Nations and the Canadian government around treaty rights and colonization.

In Writing Landscape (2012), Dion Fletcher collaborates with the environment. The rocks and the earth form imprints on the copper plates strapped to her feet as she walks upon the ground in three locations: Toronto, Ontario; Thamesville, Ontario; and Pangnirtung, Nunavut. The artist chose these locations for the personal connections they hold. As Dion Fletcher states, “In Writing Landscape I am taking steps to record and listen to the land that I come from, the land that supports me, and the land that inspires me.”


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