Portraits in Red: Missing & Murdered Indigenous People Painting Project, Feb. 2, 2023 – May 7, 2023

Exhibition Run Dates: February 2 – May 7, 2023

Opening Reception:  February 2, 4-7 PM

Opening Event:  Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians Blessing Ceremony – 4PM

WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH EVENTS AT THE PMHC

Panel Discussion: March 23, 6PM

Featuring visiting artist Nayana LaFond and others

Art Demonstration: March 25, 1PM Painting Demonstration by Nayana L

Exhibition Summary

The Lincoln County Historical Society is proud to host this very important and timely exhibition by indigenous artist Nayana Lafond. According to Executive Director Susan Tissot, “this exhibition is about bringing awareness and healing to the communities it visits. The MMIWG2S has reached a crisis stage impacting indigenous communities throughout north America. There are four Siletz tribal members in this exhibition which illustrates that our community is not immune to the issues related to this horrific crisis. We bring this exhibition to the community in partnership with the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians and My Sisters Place. The exhibit contains 41 portraits of indigenous people who are either missing, murdered, or working as advocates to bring forth awareness. LaFond has taken great care to respectfully represent the people she paints for this project.”

“I want to paint them the way the spirits would see them,” the artist Nayana Lafond says of the 40 portraits in the exhibition.  All are of missing or murdered indigenous people, or activists committed to the cause for generating awareness and honoring those who have been lost.

I began this painting project without the intention of it becoming a project at all. I intended to make one painting as a catharsis and tribute to a domestic violence survivor and my matrilineal line.  The response to the first painting was so strong I decided to paint another. This began on May 5, 2020 when I was in quarantine and looking for something to occupy my time.

After an even larger online response to the second portrait, I decided to tell people that if they send me their images, I would paint them to raise awareness about the crisis. Within the first day I received 25 emails and private messages with images and stories. I soon figured out that I needed to paint them all. I could not say yes to some and say no to others. As of September 2022 I have completed 90 works and have a constant queue of 30 or more at a time.

I paint them all for free, and I provide unlimited free prints to the families while exhibiting the originals to raise awareness. Because of so many messages and requests coming in, I declared it to be a project – the MMIWG/P Painting project began.

Each portrait is painted in black and white with red being the only visible color because spirits can only see red. Through painting these people, I seek to elevate their voices, promote healing and spark discussion while contributing toward change. Each painting brings me healing from my own experiences and the experiences of my family members and I hope it brings some healing to those I paint and their families.

Among Nayana LaFond’s subjects in “Portraits in Red”, four are members of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, three are missing or murdered and one is an activist:  Delight Attebury, Manuel Bayya, and Anthony Tolentino; Lucy is an 18-year-old advocate.

I also hope to raise awareness about this issue through exhibiting the work. Eventually if I do make the work available for sale I will donate to various charities including the NIWRC (National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center).

Artist Statement

Nayana (B 1981) is a full-time multidisciplinary artist and activist who resides with her child in Western Massachusetts. She attended Greenfield Community College and Massachusetts College of Art for Photography and then dropped out to become a full-time painter. Her paintings can be seen in collections, galleries, and museums around the world.

Nayana has been a curator and community arts organizer for over 20 years including former founding Chief Curator for The Whitney Center for the Arts. She also sits on several arts organization boards, including “Artist Organized Art”, and is an advisor for “Be The Change” and “The Native Youth Empowerment Foundation”.

Nayana’s work often deals with issues related to trauma and violence including her experiences as a Leukemia and Bone Marrow transplant and DV survivor.

Exhibit Support & Partners: Newport News Times, Central Oregon Coast NOW, Advantage Real Estate, Best Western Agate Beach, Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, My Sisters Place (MSP).

Additional Information

Because our region has been impacted by this horrible crisis, I (Susan Tissot) reached out to museum colleagues in Oregon and Washington to ensure that this important project is seen in our region. Here is the schedule of PNW exhibition run dates:

  • Pacific Maritime Heritage Center, Newport OR, Contact Person: Susan Tissot Jan 27 – May 7, 2023 
  • Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum, Ilwaco, WA, Contact Person: Madeline Matson May 19 – July 8, 2023. 
  • Wanapum Cultural Center, Ellensburg, WA, Contact Person: Angela Neller July 15 – October 15, 2023
  • Yakima Valley Museum, Yakima, WA Contact Person: Heath Lambe October 20 – January 15, 2024
  • Tamastslikt Cultural Center in Pendleton, OR, Contact Person: Randall Melton Feb 3 – May 6, 2024.

Press:

Read ‘Portraits in RED’ artist Nayana LaFond honors missing and murdered Indigenous people in Oregon Artswatch

Read “Seeing red Newport exhibit shines light on hidden tragedy.” in Oregon Coast Today