“Indigenous Femme Queer Photographer Kali Spitzer ignites the spirit of our current unbound human experience with all the complex histories we exist in, passed down through the trauma inflicted/received by our ancestors. Kali’s photographs are intimate and unapologetic and make room for growth and forgiveness while creating a space where we may share the vulnerable and broken parts of our stories which are often overlooked, or not easy to digest for ourselves or society.” Ginger Dunnill, Creator and Producer of Broken Boxes Podcast (which features interviews with indigenous and other engaged artists).

Kali Spitzer is a photographer living on the Traditional Unceded Lands of the Tsleil-Waututh, Skxwú7mesh and Musqueam peoples. The work of Kali embraces the stories of contemporary BIPOC, Queer and trans bodies, creating representation that is self determined. Kali’s collaborative process is informed by the desire to rewrite the visual histories of indigenous bodies beyond a colonial lens. Kali is Kaska Dena from Daylu (Lower Post, british columbia) on her father’s. Kali’s father is a survivor of residential schools and canadian genocide. On her Mother’s she is Jewish from Transylvania, Romania. Kali’s heritage deeply influences her work as she focuses on cultural revitalization through her art, whether in the medium of photography, ceramics, tanning hides or hunting.

Kali studied photography at the Institute of American Indian Arts, and the Santa Fe Community College. Under the mentorship of Will Wilson, Kali explored alternative processes of photography. She has worked with film in 35 mm, 120 and large format, as well as wet plate collodion process using an 8×10 camera. Her work includes portraits, figure studies and photographs of her people, ceremonies, and culture. At the age of 20, Kali moved back north to spend time with her Elders, and to learn how to hunt, fish, trap, tan moose and caribou hides, and bead. Throughout Kali’s career she has documented traditional practices with a sense of urgency, highlighting their vital cultural significance. 

Kali’s work has been featured in exhibitions at galleries and museums internationally including, the National Geographic’s Women: a Century of Change at the National Geographic Museum (2020), and Larger than Memory: Contemporary Art From Indigenous North America at the Heard Museum (2020). In 2017 Kali received a Reveal Indigenous Art Award from Hnatyshyn Foundation. 

Kali would like to extend her gratitude to all who have collaborated with her, she recognizes the trust and vulnerability required to be photographed in such intimate ways.

Mussi Cho

Soga Sénlá’

All Stories by Kali Spitzer

November 5, 2021

Bringing 'light to our stories'

Kali Spitzer’s photo project ‘An Exploration of Resilience and Resistance’ is about identity, culture, strength, vulnerability and love.