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Red Dress Project

Red Dress on display in school.
In the last 30 years, there have been over 1200 Aboriginal women who have gone missing or found murdered. The grade 10, 11 and 12 visual artists at Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts have created a powerful installation to bring awareness to this compelling issue.
The collaborative art work created under the direction of their teachers Aurora Pagano and Sandra Mustacato, was inspired by the Red Dress Project, conceived by Winnipeg based artist Jaime Black. She used the dress to represent the female gender and the colour red as it is culturally connected to the spirit world, ceremony, and life. Jaime hoped her  ‘aesthetic response’ to the violence against Aboriginal women would spread across the country, marking October 4th, as a national day of awareness.
The art project is meant to provoke discussion, educate all Canadians and provides an opportunity to address social justice issues through the power of art. At Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts, the students sewed white feathers to four red dressed and suspended them outside of  the school building for the greater  community to  experience. The feathers serve as a symbolic connection to culture and to spirits. Inside the main entrance, the students created an interactive installation and sound scape. The audio includes emotional stories and interviews told by the victims’ families. A red mannequin wearing a white dress stands in front of a red backdrop with multiple red markers suspended from the ceiling. Daily announcements invited staff and students to acknowledge the importance of the issue by writing messages, or signing their names with the red ink onto the white garment. By the end of the exhibit, the white dress will have become completely red in a symbolic transformation from innocence to ‘Red Spirit’. Students have been documenting the process and have generated further discussions through social media. The goal is to get the truth out to as many people as possible. Apathy is not acceptable.
The installations remain on exhibit until Monday October 17th.
Red Dress hanging from light outdoors.