Nanaimo Art Gallery is proud to announce the acquisition of Krista Belle Stewart’s photographic artwork Ten Thousand Dollar Portrait for our permanent collection.
Krista Belle Stewart is a member of the Upper Nicola Band of the Okanagan Nation, and is based in Vancouver and Brooklyn. While attending Camp Tintype, a workshop on historical photographic processes, Stewart was asked by the instructor to pose in regalia unrelated to her ancestry. As a participant of this immersive 19th century environment with period costumes, log cabins, and tepees, Stewart agreed to sit for the tintype photograph. After the image was exposed, the photographer claimed it could sell for $10 000 as, featuring a “real Native American,” it appeared authentic. While the photograph was being processed, Stewart herself was processing what was for her an uncomfortable experience. Upon seeing the image in a developing tray outdoors, she took ownership by re-photographing it on her own colour film. Stewart’s reclaimed photograph Ten Thousand Dollar Portrait (2008) gives grounds to ponder truth and representation in relation to individual and cultural agency.
Ten Thousand Dollar Portrait (2008) was featured in last summer's Nanaimo Art Gallery exhibition Spirit Gum and like much of Stewart's work, it speaks to issues that are, and will continue to be, prescient in the Canadian cultural context.