Claxton’s LED fireboxes are a testament to the beauty and resilience of Indigenous women. In these portraits the face of each sitter is subsumed by their cultural belongings—layers of beaded necklaces, embroidered bags, fringed hairpieces, and quilled earrings, implying an identity formed by relations and exchange. Most of the belongings were gifts, suggesting the extent to which each woman’s identity has been shaped by kinship. The items reflect the care and labour of their making, as well as their roots in Indigenous trade, stretching back hundreds of years.

Commissioned in part by the Toronto Biennial of Art and made possible with generous support from Michelle Koerner and Kevin Doyle.


Dana Claxton (Hunkpapa Lakota (Sioux), born in Yorkton, SK, Canada; lives in Vancouver, BC, Canada) works in film, video, photography, single- and multi-channel video installation, and performance art. Her practice investigates beauty, the body, the socio-political, and the spiritual. Claxton’s work has been shown internationally at venues including: Museum of Modern Art, New York City; Walker Art Centre, Minneapolis; Sundance Film Festival; Eiteljorg Museum; and Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney. Claxton’s first major survey show opened at the Vancouver Art Gallery in 2018. She is Department Head and Associate Professor in the Department of Visual Art at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver.

Exhibition Site

259 Lake Shore Blvd East

The life of this nondescript building reveals the area’s economic history. Its first tenant in 1945, the Standard Chemical Company, produced methanol, formaldehyde, and charcoal. A railway line to the south tethered the site to the movement of goods. By 1954, the building was divided into a warehouse and a showroom, a configuration that remained intact over the course of various leaseholders, including oil and electrical supply companies and a series of car dealerships. (The advertising of its most recent tenant, Volvo, is still visible on the façade.) This building’s fate is indeterminate, as real estate development is increasingly filling the voids left by industrial decline.

259 Lake Shore Blvd East
Toronto ON
M5A 3T7