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Language and Culture (13-17)

Radical Stitch – The largest survey exhibition of contemporary Indigenous beadwork ever presented on the continent

May 16, 2024

NationTalk: On view: 101 beadworks by 44 First Nations, Inuit and Métis artists ranging from wearable art and portraiture to installation and video, connecting past and present.

Beading is one of the defining mediums of contemporary Indigenous art on this continent. Until September 30, 2024, the National Gallery of Canada (NGC) will present Radical Stitch, an exhibition organized and circulated by the MacKenzie Art Gallery. The largest survey exhibition of contemporary Indigenous beadwork ever presented on Turtle Island/North America, Radical Stitch brings together 101 works by 44 First Nations, Inuit, and Métis artists from across Canada and the United States, conveying much-needed critical attention to the breadth and impact of this practice.

From early beads made of seeds and shells, to trade beads and computer pixels, Indigenous artists have long used beadwork to tell stories, honour loved ones and celebrate beauty. As they embrace techniques and knowledge passed from previous generations, today’s Indigenous artists are using beading to address concerns and concepts related to history, decolonization and resistance.

“Today, from the world’s runways to the pavilions at this year’s Venice Biennale, beading practices are getting some long overdue attention. This exhibition goes beyond making a statement, it celebrates a rich form of art that has flourished through the ages,” said Jean-François Bélisle, Director & CEO, National Gallery of Canada. “We are thankful for this fruitful partnership with the MacKenzie Art Gallery. These kinds of collaborations are key for building relationships that help to elevate works by incredible artists and share them with art lovers across all regions.”

“Indigenous beading is one of our generation’s most exciting movements in contemporary art,” said John G. Hampton, Executive Director & CEO at the MacKenzie. “Rooted in cultural and territorial specificity, beadwork is especially relevant in this moment of cultural shift and divide. Artists are leading a path for honouring long-held wisdom alongside innovation, evolution, and community. We are thrilled to bring this exhibition to the National Gallery of Canada, as an opportunity to contemplate our national identity through diverse Indigenous perspectives that don’t conform to the borders that divide Turtle Island.”

Radical Stitch is curated by Sherry Farrell Racette, PhD, Professor at the Department of Visual Arts at the University of Regina, scholar, author, curator, and artist; Cathy Mattes, PhD, curator, writer, and Associate Professor in History of Art at the University of Winnipeg; and Michelle LaVallee, Director, Indigenous Ways and Curatorial Initiatives at the NGC.

The exhibition is making its fourth stop at the National Gallery of Canada before travelling to the Beaverbrook Art Gallery (November 30, 2024 – March 2, 2025) and the Eiteljorg Museum, Indianapolis (April 1 – August 3, 2025). The tour is supported by the Canada Council for the Arts. The Ottawa presentation has been expanded to include 15 works on loan that will only be on view at the NGC. Jocelyn Piirainen, Associate Curator, Indigenous Ways and Decolonisation at NGC, is the coordinating curator of the exhibition at the Gallery.

Participating artists include Barry Ace, Hannah Claus, Ruth Cuthand, Audie Murray, Elias Not Afraid, Margaret Nazon, Taqralik Partridge, Jobena Petonoquot, Nico Williams, Skawennati and many more.


Radical Stitch is accompanied by a publication co-published by the National Gallery of Canada and the MacKenzie Art Gallery featuring essays by curators and community scholars and full-colour images of works by all the artists in the exhibition. It will be available at the Gallery’s Boutique and online at starting May 17, 2024.

Inspiration Space and public programming

The Gallery has created the Inspiration Space, in conjunction with Radical Stitch. Opening on May 16 at 5 p.m. ET, and accessible during the Gallery’s opening hours this summer, the Inspiration Space offers self-directed activities for all ages to enhance their understanding of beading.

Several artists will be in the exhibition space during the opening weekend, on May 18 and 19, to discuss the ideas and inspiration behind selected pieces in a series of 10-minute spot talks.

To find out more about the public programming in conjunction with Radical Stitch, visit the exhibition page at


For media inquiries, please contact:

Josée-Britanie Mallet
Senior Officer, Media and Public Relations
National Gallery of Canada

Pénélope Carreau
Officer, Public Relations
National Gallery of Canada