This hand-coloured, high-contrast black-and-white photo shows three women bust-length, facing the camera. Their hair is done up and they are wearing showy makeup. The background is neutral white.

Shelley Niro

(b. Niagara Falls, New York, 1954)


Mohawks in Beehives


Hand-tinted black-and-white photograph

20.3 x 25.4 cm

Courtesy of the artist

© Shelley Niro

Mohawks in Beehives is part of a series of photographs taken by the artist Shelley Niro on the day she and her three sisters decided to live it up and take downtown Brantford by storm. Donning flashy makeup, jewellery and bouffant hairdos, they took to the streets in playful performance actions. This was a way of reclaiming the urban territory and re-appropriating their individuality, moving beyond Indigenous stereotypes and the oppressive social climate that followed the Oka Crisis. Ignoring the rules of public behaviour, the sisters invaded the city in flamboyant, outrageous style.

The Mohawk artist Shelley Niro grew up on the Six Nations Reserve, near the city of Brantford, Ontario. Through her multidisciplinary practice she seeks to upend the social rules and stereotypical representations imposed on Indigenous women by the dominant culture. Niro re‑empowers her subjects by emphasizing their individuality and portraying them in everyday situations. She often enlists members of her family as subjects, thus making her staged narratives more personal.