Indigenous Fashion, Textiles & Wearable Art


(Toronto) The Setsuné Indigenous Fashion Incubator is pleased to partner with Craft Ontario and Culture Storm for the exhibition of its first-ever Collective Creation Project, Indian Giver.  With the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council and the Toronto Arts Council, the artists of this group exhibition have been commissioned to create a new body of works in fashion, textiles or wearable art that address issues of cultural appropriation of Indigenous cultures. The established and emerging artists include Erika Iserhoff (Cree), Jodi Lynn Maracle (Kanien’kehá ne Kenhtè:ke – Mohawk of the Bay of Quinte), Jeneen Frei Njootli (Gwich’in) in collaboration with Rodrigo Hernandez-Gomez (Nahua/Mestizo), Sage Paul (Dene), Lido Pimienta (Wayuu), J’net AyAy Qwa Yak Sheelth (Nuu-chah- nulth), and Louise Solomon (Ojibway).

Recent media has been flooded with incidents of cultural appropriation: Urban Outfitter’s illegal usage of the Navajo Nation’s cultural trademarks, the Washington Red*kins logo and name, and Canadian designers Dsquared2’s fashion collection D*quaw, to name a few.  While these cases have been recognized as derogatory or racist, there are initiatives in the mainstream that are Indigenous-led and truly share in celebrating our culture, history, aesthetic, or contributions to modern day. This seminal exhibition, Indian Giver, addresses the disjointed “appreciation” of our culture and the theft of intellectual property, traditional knowledge, cultural expressions, artifacts or raditional materials by reclaiming these ideas and placing voice and creation squarely back into the hands of Indigenous artists.

Setsuné (set-soon- eh) means grandmother in the Dene language and we use it to acknowledge intergenerational crossovers, blood memory and oral histories expressed through fashion and the arts. Setsuné Indigenous Fashion Incubator programming fosters the research, development and creation of new works by Indigenous artists working in traditional and contemporary fashion, textiles and wearable art. Our partnerships with industry, galleries and allies promote Indigenous fashion and material-based art across diverse cultures and sectors.  Setsuné is a Collective comprised of women artists, designers, managers and community members Sage Paul, Erika Iserhoff and Louise Solomon; we follow the spirit of a not-for- profit organization within an Indigenous framework. Setsuné Inc. is an extension of the Incubator with a focus on the economic development and wellbeing of Indigenous women entrepreneurs who work in fashion, textiles and apparel retail.

Craft Ontario was founded in 1976 through the merger of the Canadian Guild of Crafts (Ontario, 1931) and the Ontario Craft Foundation (1966), and is registered with Revenue Canada as a charitable organization under the corporate name Ontario Crafts Council (charitable tax number: 11887 8511 RR 0001). Programs and activities are supported through earned revenues from membership, proceeds from the Craft Ontario Shop (formerly The Guild Shop), advertising, the Volunteer Committee, as well as government, individual, corporate, and foundation financial support. Craft Ontario aims to achieve its vision and mission by offering the public opportunities to engage with craft through exhibitions, retail programming, publications such as Studio Magazine, and by partnering with other art-based organizations, institutions, and trade shows.

Curatorial Advisor, Heather Haynes of Culture Storm is a Senior International Programmer for Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Film Festival and a Programmer for imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival. She is the founder of Culture Storm, a production and touring company for performance artists, theatre and visual arts that plays an important role in fostering social, political, community engagement and change. She has produced three International award winning documentaries; Wetback: The Undocumented Documentary, Super Amigos, and City Idol and is the former Artistic Director and Founder of Toronto Free Gallery.



The Collective Process: The artists worked independently and collaboratively to create a new body of works that speaks to and challenges cultural appropriation of Indigenous peoples.  Theworks have a foundation in fashion, textiles or wearable art although the selected proposals explore mixed materials and practices in their execution. In addition to working together, Artists had have access to consultation with our selection jury, elders, OCAD University and Craft Ontario.

The Jury, which included Heather Haynes, Monica Hayward, Elwood Jimmy and Rosary Spence had this to say of their selections:

As a jury we felt that the selected proposals were most reflective of the overall theme of cultural appropriation bringing a strong core of artists together to work in a collaborative way. Bringing a strong conversation with a multi-layered approach in use of materials and innovation and a multi-disciplinary approach. The artists we selected represent a wide range of cultural backgrounds & experiences, ways of making, and all demonstrated an overwhelming commitment to their work and their communities.


Erika Iserhoff (James Bay Cree) Erika A. Iserhoff is a multi-disciplinary artist of Omushkego/Eeyou Cree heritage and is a member of Constance Lake First Nation. Erika
works to collaborate with artists, communities, and revitalize traditional Indigenous cultural practices within her contemporary art and design work and community arts projects. She is a graduate from the Ontario College of Art & Design University with a Bachelor of Design. She is also the  Artistic Producer for Native Women in the Arts, a member of the Chocolate Woman Collective and the Co-Artistic Director of the Setsuné Indigenous Fashion Incubator.  Professional Art Exhibitions include; Passages: First Peoples (OCADU University Professional Gallery), Ancestral Teachings Contemporary Perspectives curated by Vanessa Dion Fletcher (Thunderbird Centre, Gladstone Hotel Gallery). Not Forgetting curated by Lisa Myers (Harbourfront Centre, Planet IndigenUS), Catalyst (Arts Etobicoke), Hand Work Graduate Exhibit (John B. Aird Gallery). Erika is a recipient a Dora Mavor Moore award for Outstanding Costume Design for the play Agokwe by Waawaate Fobister (Buddies in Bad Times Theatre)

Jodi Lynn Maracle (Kanien’kehá ne Kenhtè:ke – Mohawk of the Bay of Quinte) is currently pursuing her PhD in American Studies at the University at Buffalo (SUNY). Scholar, activist, dancer, craftswoman and artist Jodi Lynn Maracle centers her research, practice and activism on creating a contemporary presence for Indigenous peoples through critical self-representation across disciplines and across geographies. Most recently she completed a collaborative installation of screen printed signs in the Tuscarora language at Artpark in Lewiston, NY and is in production with its complementary digital soundscape component.

Jeneen Frei Njootli (Gwich’in) and Rodrigo Hernandez-Gomez (Nahua/Mestizo) Jeneen and Rodrigo’s peoples, both in the North and the South, are renown for creating incredibly inventive and beautiful garments. Jeneen and Rodrigo are inspired by the wearable art made by their ancestors and families hands. They hope to honour their respective traditions by giving continuation to the values enacted in creating handmade, imaginative, playful and meaningful wearable pieces and adapting them to our particular circumstances. In this collaboration Jeneen and Rodrigo will create two full-body garments that are reflective of their individual Nahua, Mestizo and Gwich’in ancestry. Jeneen Frei Njootli is a member of the ReMatriate collective and has a performance-based art practice. Rodrigo works as a plurimedia artist, activist and picture framer. Both artists are currently based in unceded Tsleil-Waututh, Squamish and Musqueam territory.

Sage Paul (Dene) is an artist and designer. She loves beauty. Her work reflects family and the broader sense of community, cultural experiences, and resisting commodification or commercialism through fashion, wearable art and mixed-materials. Sage’s work has exhibited at The Woodland Cultural Centre (2014), The Royal Ontario Museum (2013) and the Harbourfront Centre (2012). She has also completed three fashion collections and designed wardrobe for film and theatre including collaborations with Danis Goulet, Kent Monkman and a Centre for Indigenous Theatre production directed by Herbie Barnes. Sage is the co-founder of Setsuné Indigenous Fashion Incubator.

Lido Pimienta (Wayuu) is a Toronto-based Colombian born interdisciplinary Indigenous Wayuu and Afro Colombian artist, curator and musician. She has performed, exhibited and curated around the world since 2002. Her work explores the politics of gender, race, motherhood, identity and the construct of the Canadian landscape in the Latinx American and Indigenous Diaspora and vernacular.  J’net AyAy Qwa Yak Sheelth (Nuu-chah- nulth) is from the Ancestral Lands of the Nuu-chah-nulth on Vancouver Island. She is a cedar bark weaver and textile artist who re-creates oral story traditions on contemporary and re-cultured clothing. J'net has been awarded numerous Canada Council for the Arts grants to venture home to BC and learn cedar bark weaving from kindred weavers. J’net is devoted to retaining and sustaining her oral traditions through a variety of Indigenous textile art mediums for future generations to take pride in their heritage.

Louise Solomon (Ojibway) is a multimedia artist and goldsmith that takes inspiration from Mother Earth and her cultural heritage. She likes to mix modern day techniques and forms while still incorporating or drawing inspiration from raw materials like claws, teeth, sweetgrass and other organic materials. Louise studied Studio Art at the University of Guelph where she received her Bachelor of Arts and then continued her studies at George Brown College for Goldsmithing. She has since opened up a successful Jewelry company, Hand of Solomon where she produces high-end engagement rings, wedding bands and statement jewelry art.


‘Indian Giver’ confronting cultural appropriation through artwork, by Lauren Pelley