Jeff Thomas | The Indigenous Map Maker’s Room

Jeff Thomas | The Indigenous Map Maker’s Room

Saturday, October 30, 2021 to Sunday, January 2, 2022

Jeff Thomas (b. 1956, Buffalo, New York) is a nationally recognized Urban-Iroquois photo-based artist, story teller, writer, and curator based in Ottawa, Ontario. Through his work, curatorial practice and written publications, he has led major projects at prominent national cultural institutions such as the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the Woodlands Cultural Centre, the Art Gallery of Ontario, and Library and Archives Canada. Jeff Thomas’s ground- breaking work has solidified his place at the forefront of scholarship in Indigenous histories.

In his photography practice, he examines historical and contemporary views of Indigeneity and addresses the impact of issues such as urbanization, land ownership and historical ways of representation. The exhibition The Indigenous Map Maker’s Room, presents work from his larger photo series, Indians on Tour, which features toy figurines posed in front of national monuments and landscapes. Thomas reframes the stereotypical representation of the figures, presenting them as tourists in a contemporary environment, challenging preconceptions of Indigenous peoples and Indigenous history.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Jeff Thomas on a selection of artwork featured in the exhibition as well as the history of this photo series. The following conversation highlights his photography practice, artistic influences, and development throughout his career. I encourage you to read through the interview and engage with the books provided by the Whitchurch-Stouffville Public Library at our reception entrance.

– Carolyn Hickey, Curator

Read the interview here. Watch the interview here.

The Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville acknowledges this land is the treaty territory of the Williams Nations. It is also the traditional territory of other Anishinaabeg peoples, the Huron-Wendat, and the Haudenosaunee. We also recognize the contributions of all Indigenous peoples to this place and commit to a continued dialogue and greater respect for the land we have come to share. This recognition of the contributions and historic importance of Indigenous peoples must also be clearly and overtly connected to our collective commitment to make the promise and the challenge of Truth and Reconciliation real in our community.