Ontario Public Interest Research Group of Peterborough
Sioux Lily Dickson
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.
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.
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
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.