Sioux Lily Dickson

It’s Not Binary- Sioux Lily Dickson
Image Description: A bright spring morning illuminates the sun drenched image. From off camera, the morning sun creates a shadow of a person sitting in her power wheelchair. Her seated shadow is centered between two massive loading dock doors that dominate the photograph. The walls and doors of the loading dock are a dark butter yellow, and rust stains permeate throughout the concrete and metal. The door on the left is palely marked with the number one and the door on the right is labelled with a two.

Sioux Lily Dickson has called Peterborough home for all of her adult years. She was given her first camera when she was nine years old and spent long nights in the darkroom as a teenager. There is barely a day that goes by without the creation of a few photographic witnesses.

Majestic- Sioux Lily Dickson
Image description: An overwrought yellow peaks from behind the dumpster green in this abstract photograph. There are four dominant shapes. From left to right is a sparse rusty vertical swath, a very dark green block that has been smeared with pale highlights. A shock of an angry vertical rusty gash sits next to a tall layered panel that is emblazoned with dark greens, withering reds and awkward whites. This piece resembles more an abstract painting rather than a photograph of a dumpster wall.

Sioux’s work celebrates the beauty of the overlooked. Her favourite thing to photograph are dumpsters and the alleys they live in. When not creating abstracts of organically generated patinas, she shares her gaze regarding difference in order to highlight the joys and sorrows of accessibility and inclusion. Her ability to art finally restored after beginning treatment for a long undiagnosed illness, she now views the world only through accessible apertures. Her art would not be as telling without her advocacy and her advocacy would not be as florid without her art. Activism and art are her twin muses.

In Lock- Sioux Lily Dickson
Image description: A photograph of Lock 20 in Peterborough, Ontario. On a frosty early autumn morning a wheelchair user’s view of the walkway to the other side of the river. Bright yellow metal railings hug the grey wood and textured metal on either side of the walkway. In the upper right of the frame is the lock mechanism. An akimbo pair of purple converse rest on the wheelchair’s footrest at the centre bottom of the photograph.

What influenced you to use art as a form of activism?

I was an activist before I was able to return to arting. Creativity restored, the ways in which I can make art now have changed. Whether I can do the thing or I need to find accommodations to do the thing, accessibility entirely dictates the art I am able to make. It was an interlaced birth; merging advocacy and art was never a conscious choice.

-Sioux Lily Dickson
Why Not Both? -Sioux Lily Dickson
Image description: A photograph of long morning shadows, on a brisk autumn morning. An ambulatory user of a power wheelchair stands off camera, in the foreground. Her wheelchair can be seen to one side. The shadows of the user and her chair stand side by side in front of a roundabout of a local education installation.

How do you promote activism through your work?

In sharing my art, accessibility and inclusion are unavoidable aspects of conversation. As a pre-covid activist, I’d go into schools and businesses to share experiential workshops about accessibility. When a person struggles to get through a doorway using a wheelchair, that epiphany about inclusivity stays with them. My hope is that I can bring that same dawning as people engage with my work. I need to highlight the urgency in creating accessible communities.

The art I was making for my own amusement before covid is now one of the few vehicles I have left to continue my advocacy. That there are now more opportunities for artists with disabilities means I must speak about how things became more inclusive in the blink of an eye. In accommodating for one variable (covid), many people are now included in conversations and activities that were barrier laden before. My work promotes accessibility awareness as the only equitable choice for our community and accessibility allows for me to create the work. Art and activism are forever hand in hand for me.

-Sioux Lily Dickson
Puppet Show- Sioux Lily Dickson
Image description: A long, vertical abstract photograph that resembles more painting than photograph. Dumpster green is the most prominent colour with slashes and gashes of varying shades of green. The most prominent motif is an irregular thick stripe of brilliant rust furrows and scribbles that takes up most of the photograph. An ovoid rust ball anchors this upright shape from the bottom left.  On top of the primary tall peak is a dark creature with short ears, a long snout and bright buggy rusty red eyes. On the other side of the crown is a jutting, a inflorescence of scrawled green lines. These shapes suggest puppets to the artist.
 
This art has been inscribed into the dumpster wall by years of trucks lifting it. Those scars have patinaed and rusted and bloomed to create this accidental art. There is a radiant glow from the many variations of depth and colour as lit by the morning sun.

To see more of Sioux Lily Dickson’s work:

Check out her Instagram page!

Check her Accessibility Facebook page!