Indigenous textiles with Sho Sho Esquiro


Sho Sho Esquiro’s work in Adorned is an excerpt of work recently exhibited at the Bill Reid Gallery for her solo exhibition, Doctrine of Discovery, which produced a catalogue now sold in the AGGV’s gallery shop. A culmination of work of many years, in this collection Sho Sho Esquiro focused on colonial impositions of church and state, resiliency and resistance and intergenerational strength and survival.

“As an Indigenous Artist it is my absolute life’s passion to express myself through my art. To use my platform as my responsibility to create art that touches on Indigenous issues and healing. To always challenge my vision and skill level, to carry on traditions passed down generation to generation. I love to create opportunity and spaces for those to come after me. It is my life’s mission to work with youth and elders, mentorship is very important to me. To learn and to teach the lessons and skills that I have had the privilege to be taught. It is my life’s passion and work to express myself through my art, not only through textiles but also painting. To bring awareness, compassion, healing and shine light on issues important to me.” – Sho Sho Esquiro

Sho Sho Esquiro combines the inspiration of traditional Indigenous textiles and modern urban culture to create art in the medium of fashion. Profoundly inspired by her childhood in Ross River and her connection to her extended Indigenous families and communities, artist Sho Sho Esquiro’s stunning garments have been shown in Canada, New York, Paris, Santa Fe, and are sought after by museums across North America. Using beadwork, porcupine quills, and moose-hair tufting, details are appliquéd with great care and consideration for its origin. The choice of materials honours the designer’s Indigenous teachings that everything from the earth is to be used with respect. Inspired by her current city life in Vancouver, BC and her upbringing in the Yukon Territory, Esquiro melds these natural materials with alluring colour palettes, flawless design and classic silhouettes in a contemporary way.

Sho Sho has won numerous awards and distinctions: 1st Place Clothing Competition, Santa Fe Indian Market, 2013; Best of Division Bead Work, 22nd Annual Eiteljorg Indian Market and Festival, 2014; Honorable Mention, Santa Fe Indian Market Clothing Competition, 2015; and Ist place at the Autry Museum in L.A. 2015; 1st place in Textiles at the Heard Museum in Phoenix. She has also represented Canada twice in Paris, France with fashion shows on the Eiffel Tower in 2014 and 2019. Sho Sho was a finalist in the inaugural Yukon Prize for Visual Arts 2021. Her work is in the collection of the Yukon Arts Centre and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, and has been featured in Native Fashion Now!, a national traveling exhibition organized by the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts.

The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria is located on the traditional territory of the lək̓ʷəŋən speaking peoples, today known as the Esquimalt and Songhees First Nations. We extend our gratitude and appreciation for the opportunity to live and work on this territory.

Videography and editing by Marina DiMaio.Sho Sho Esquiro’s work in Adorned is an excerpt of work recently exhibited at the Bill Reid Gallery for her solo exhibition, Doctrine of Discovery, which produced a catalogue now sold in the AGGV’s gallery shop. A culmination of work of many years, in this collection Sho Sho Esquiro focused on colonial impositions of church and state, resiliency and r …

Autogenerated Transcript from YouTube (if available)

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Hi, my name is Sho Sho Esquiro. I’m from Tu-Lidlini Yukon,
that’s Ross River. I’m Kaska Dena, Cree and Scottish.


My Kaska name is Belelige and I’m super honored to be here.


So these are pieces from various different years.


These two are my newest pieces and they’re pieces from my overall


collection that I call Doctrine of Discovery.


So they’re dealing with different things
that First Nations people are going through in the current times.


This piece here is called Molly and it’s inspired by,
I was asked by my adopted auntie,


whose auntie actually attended residential school and died there.


And so what’s happening right now,


I think it’s really important to put names and faces
to these children to really honor them in a good way.


So it was important for me to include that in the collection.


And it’s made out of home-tanned moose hide from the Yukon.


And so a lot of love and care and preparation
went into making that hide.


And I got it from another adopted auntie, Margaret Duval.


And so it was one hide that we used, and there’s other pieces within the collection, but these are the two pieces that we used.


This piece is called Land Back,
and I’m super excited about this piece.


I always say, this is my favorite piece.


So I created this piece
and I used a lot of different materials within the piece.


So as mentioned, it has home-tanned moose hide, acid washed lamb, carp, beavertail, water snake, fox, dentalium shells, porcupine quills,


birch bark, copper, black raw diamond,
platinum, obsidian, seed beads.


And I also like to deconstruct and recycle materials.


So there’s a little bit of carpet on there, from a carpet sample book.


And the ostrich feathers in the back.


So I like to use traditional techniques,
but apply them in a contemporary way.


And so I this is a good example of something that might have been


traditionally worn and coming into, you know, here and now.


I think this would be a really awesome outfit
for any Indigenous woman to walk in to a meeting or like shopping.


And it just kind of shows that our culture is fluid
and we’re still here, we’re thriving and existing.


So this next piece
here, I’ll just talk about these three pieces in the front.


This one is two pieces together,


and the jacket is actually a deconstructed jacket,


leather from my grandpa, my late grandpa, his favorite jacket.


But it’s called, the jacket is called Pope Francis.


And years ago, when Pope Francis denied an apology
to Indigenous people, that was kind of my message back.


And so that collection was called No Apology Necessary.


So I’m the first generation to not go to residential school.


So again, it was really important for me
to talk about that ugly history of Canada,


because it’s not necessarily taught in schools, or to people
that are coming new to the country.


I think it’s really important to talk about that history.


And so on the back,
there is a picture of Pope Francis upside down and


for me, it was a sign,


you know, when people put a flag upside down and it shows distress.


So that was my message.


Not so much of disrespect,
but more of showing that we’re a distressed people.


And also that whether — although now this is a couple of years later,
we have received an apology, which is great,


but at the time my message
was whether we do get an apology or not,


I don’t think it’s healthy to wait around for
something that may never come.


And it’s really up to people individually
to find that healing within themselves.


So it’s really beautiful now that, you know,
there has been an apology and that can hopefully eventually help


people heal. And also bring awareness.


Although I will mention, I think it’s unfortunate


that Pope Francis isn’t coming to British Columbia on his visit.


The skirt is a collaboration that I made with my dear mentor
who’s passed away.


Her name was Clarissa Rizal, and she was


a master Chilkat Weaver from Alaska.


So I’d like to point out, since I’m from the Yukon
and I’m Kaska and Cree,


we don’t do Northwest Coast art,
so I don’t do Northwest Coast art.


So this is a collaboration with my mentor that is Northwest Coast.


And so we took, this is her design and this is a good example,


I don’t typically throw away any scraps.


And so that whole skirt, the leathers were made
of just scraps that I’ve kept over the years.


And then, just to talk a little bit about the materials. So we have stingray, beaver tail, calf hide, bullfrog.


There is deer hide, moose hide, cow hide, lamb and


so these are all things that have been repurposed,
like old leather jackets or scraps of things


that I’ve previously used.


And then the belt that’s attached
is all hand embroidered with 24k gold.


And so it was really exciting to use my mentor’s fabric
and to create that.


Unfortunately, she passed away before she got to see it.


So it’s really a special piece and I think it works well with the Pope Francis.


So I just want to really thank everybody for having me to be a part of this beautiful show and amongst all these other talented artists.


And thank you, Sógá sénlá’.

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