Above: Visual arts students from Paris District High School present their works with Brant County OPP, which displayed the Red Dress project.

Art Project Raises Awareness on Red Dress Day


tudents at Paris District High School recently took part in a meaningful art project coinciding with Red Dress Day, meant to start and continue conversations around an important issue, honouring survivors and those affected by violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQI+ people across the country. 

"Participating in the Red Dress project provided our art students with the opportunity to work as a collective with the goal of bringing awareness to their community," said educator Sandi MacMillan, whose Grade 10 visual arts class got involved. "They approached this goal with enthusiasm and creativity, and I'm very proud of what they accomplished."

The result of the student artists' work and creativity is a collection of red dresses, constructed mostly out of paper, that invite viewers to consider the presence of the dresses through the absence that's evoked by the empty garments. 

"While creating the dresses out of paper was difficult, it was really neat to figure out techniques to effectively make an aesthetically pleasing dress from an original design," said Mya Stewart, a Grade 10 student. "Knowing that making the dress supported an important cause and raised awareness of a very serious issue encouraged me to continue working despite the challenges, so I'm glad I got the experience." 

The results of the student artists' work ended up having an even more significant impact when the Brant County chapter of the Ontario Provincial Police installed the collection of paper gowns at its detachment, shedding further light on the issue through the public display. 

"We're thankful to Officer Ro for both educating our students on the Red Dress project and providing our students with the opportunity to display their artwork on this social issue," added MacMillan. 

Involvement in efforts like the Red Dress project nurture learners' curiosity, opportunity and collaboration, and build community.