BILLINGS — A series of red dresses were hung underneath Skypoint in downtown Billings Sunday by members of the local Zonta Club and Montana Native Women's Coalition to spark conversation and remember missing and murdered indigenous people.
“The point of the exhibit is to evoke thought about the absence that’s evoked by seeing the dresses empty and out in open space. The idea is that there should be women and girls filling these dresses and they are unable to do so because they are no longer with us," said Anna Schmitt, a volunteer with the Zonta Club of Billings.
The dresses are on loan from Canadian multidisciplinary artist Jamie Black and can be viewed in Billings through Oct. 18. The dresses come from Black's piece, The REDress Project, which has traveled across Canada and the United states to draw attention to missing and murdered indigenous women.
The local groups behind the dresses also organized last years MMIW march and line the rims events to bring awareness to the cause. With the COVID-19 pandemic this year, the march was pushed back and eventually turned into an online community event, Schmitt said.
Sheduled for Oct. 11 at 1 p.m., the virtual missing and murdered community gathering will have speakers from the community, state/federal governments, Schmitt said. The artist behind The REDress project will also speak about her piece at the virtual event.
“We will be having presenters from across the country with a focus on Montana and what the current scenario is for MMIP in Montana and the work that’s being done to address it. As well as some people that have personal experiences with the issue," Schmitt said.