Tired of reading negative and disparaging remarks directed at Indigenous people of Winnipeg in the press and social media, artist KC Adams created a photo series that presented another perspective. Called “Perception Photo Series,” it confronted common stereotypes of First Nation, Inuit and Metis people to illustrate a more contemporary truthful story. First appearing on billboards, in storefronts, in bus shelters, and projected onto Winnipeg’s downtown buildings, Adam’s stunning photographs now appear in her new book, Perception: A Photo Series. Meant to challenge the culture of apathy and willful ignorance about Indigenous issues, Adams hopes to unite readers in the fight against prejudice of all kinds.
KC Adams (she/her/hers) is a Cree/Ojibway/British Winnipeg-based artist who graduated from Concordia University with a B.F.A in studio arts. Adams has had several solo exhibitions, group exhibitions and was included in the PHOTOQUAI: Biennale des images du monde in Paris, France. KC has participated in residencies at the Banff Centre, the Confederation Art Centre in Charlottetown, the National Museum of the American Indian and the Parramatta Arts Gallery in Australia. Adams has received several grants and awards from Winnipeg Arts Council, Manitoba Arts Council and Canada Council for the Arts. KC’s work is in many permanent collections Nationally and Internationally. Twenty pieces from the Cyborg Hybrid series are in the permanent collection of the National Art Gallery in Ottawa and from the installation Birch Bark Ltd, four trees are in the collection of the Canadian Consulate of Australia, NSW. Adams was the set designer for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s Going Home Star: Truth and Reconciliation. Adams has designed public art sculptures for the Winnipeg Forks South Point Project and the United Way of Winnipeg called Community. Adams have been teaching about Indigenous pottery and learning from elders at the annual nibi (water) gathering at Whiteshell Provincial Park. KC recently won the Winnipeg Arts Council’s Making A Mark Award and the Aboriginal Circle of Educator’s Trailblazing Award. She is an instructor in Visual and Aboriginal Art at Brandon University.
I admire what KC Adams did when she kept hearing disparaging remarks and slurs against the Native peoples of Canada. As an indigenous person herself, she too, had been subjected to mistreatment and prejudice just be being someone who looks different. She was determined to find a way to get people's perceptions to change. The Native/indigenous people and their cultures were here to stay and non-Native people had to come to terms with and accept that. Adams choose to use her skill as a photographer as a catalyst to address the racism and prejudice head on.
She took a series of two photographs of the same person; one as she said a racist remark, the other as she said something positive about the person. She then put up these pictures as posters around municipal areas. The first picture was headlined with the slur said while filming it, the bottom said "Think again". The second picture (taken when she invoked a positive response in them) told who they were and some things about them. This photography series (now captured in her book Perceptions) helped people recognize their own reactions to Native peoples and realize that they were unfair and untrue.
I love when art is not only creative, but an agent for social change! Kudos, Ms. Adams! Well done!
Many thanks to NetGalley and High Water Press for allowing me to read an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed here are strictly my own.
KC Adams' Perception series challenges us to bridge thought and reality; emerging on the other side better having challenged ourselves to see Indigenous peoples for what they really are. We are grandparents, parents, children - and everything in between. As Adams shows through this incredible exhibition of faces and feelings, we are beautiful, whole, and complex peoples irreducible to stereotypes and slander.
KC Adams's Perception series absolutely captured the most devastating perceptions from the colonial mind, and the accompanying lack of knowledge about the truth of Canada's historical relationship to Indigenous Peoples. Succinctly and beautifully, KC transformed that narrative in this series. It is a prolific piece which will always be a source of inspiration for truth and reconciliation. It is unforgettable. Kichi miigwetch KC Adams!
This is a fantastic book and a real conversation starter. K.C. Adams explores stereotypes of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people through portrait photography. What started off as a social media and poster project at bus stops has now been turned into a book as she photographs people with assumptions that have been made about them written next to the photo before showing the real person and who they really are. It’s a very simple but overwhelming creative and effective idea. It’s made me reflect what assumptions I might hold about certain groups of people and how accurate they are. I really appreciated that this is also not just a book of photographs but also informs the reader how the project got created and why it is so important and what art can do. One person who sat for photos also talked about the experience which is something photography books often don’t include but really adds to the photos. I hadn’t heard of Adams before but shall definitely be looking up more of work. Thank you very much to Net Galley and HighWater Press for providing me with an ARC in return for a honest review.
This is an amazing portrayal of the indigenous community. The emotions displayed by each individual are clearly defined. I highly recommend this resource be placed in all libraries and used to dispel racism and discriminatory ideas.
We hear the saying, “A picture can say a thousand words” quite often, but sometimes we don’t take the time to actually look at what we are seeing and what it is saying. Sometimes photographs are taken for fun, with no real meaning behind them. But there are times when a photograph is taken for a purpose, taken to deliver a message. KC Adams, with Perception, is doing just that. She is not only delivering a message, she is also making a statement in order to break down the racial prejudices and stereotypes towards the indigenous community in Canada.
From looking at the first picture that shows their reaction to what people think of them to looking at their second picture that shows their look of pure happiness coupled with their name, their tribes, and the words they would use to describe themselves is what is causing people to think twice, think differently, and spark conversation.
Perception is an interesting collection of photography and essay-like writings. I'll definitely recommend this one to our library patrons.
Perception is an impressive collection...an inside look into a living legend’s photography practice (I say this in no uncertain terms) and, more importantly, as Adams intended, a reminder to look past the hurt in search of a love that can bring us all home.