Research | Queen’s University Canada

Dylan Robinson

Dylan Robinson

Documenting Indigenous public arts across North America and fostering the creation of new art in public spaces: this research examines the ways in which Indigenous public arts confront the colonial erasure of Indigenous histories.

[Dr. Dylan Robinson]
Former Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Arts
Tier 2

What’s in a Sign?

Dr. Dylan Robinson, Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Arts and a xwelmexw (Stó:lō) artist–researcher, finds it hard to avoid signs that affirm Canada’s history of colonization and continued colonial legacy across most Canadian and American cities. Such signs are ubiquitous, from street signs named after city “founders” and statues of famous statesmen and explorers, to buildings named after companies that profit from extracting resources across Indigenous territories.

In his research, Robinson looks at how these signs of colonization are being replaced with signs that reclaim indigenous histories of place. Specifically, his research addresses how Indigenous artists are weaving their histories and futures back into the fabric of civic infrastructure by creating new public artworks.

Robinson’s research traces the development of contemporary Indigenous public arts as sensate interventions in public space. His research asks how forms of sound-based and language-based public art challenge viewers to understand their relationship to the Indigenous histories of the lands they are guests upon.

Robinson’s research also centrally supports the creation of new of Indigenous public art works. To this end, he collaborates with Indigenous artists, scholars, and Indigenous community members to explore how public art practices express Indigenous sovereignty, foreground Indigenous history, and affirm Indigenous culture.