Nicole Staples

I am Nicole Staples, an Anishinaabe artist from Cass Lake, Minnesota. Ever hear of it? I have. I’ve lived in this small town most of my life. Growing up, all I wanted to do was to get out of Cass Lake, but I've realized that you can't run from your home, no matter what is there. You’ve got to face it with full force. You can’t give up. Being able to take photographs has become one of the reasons that I continue to stay here. I’ve been a photographer since 1998. I was seventeen then. Now, I’m twenty-five. I love taking pictures with a 35mm camera. I think that is the best way, it shows the real deal!!!


Philosophy as an Artist

My Love for photography began with an art class in school. I made this camera out of a box. I designed it and it worked. To be able to take a picture with a box was a powerful feeling. At that moment I realized that I wanted to become a photographer.


Taking pictures came naturally. I wanted to take all kinds of photographs - landscapes, portraits, everything. I didn't own a camera, so I only got to take pictures for school. Even so, something began stirring inside me. I got this feeling that made me curious. So I continued. Since that time I have used the camera to catch those beautiful, unforgettable, and sometimes, painful moments. It’s been a constant presence in my life when little else has. 


I think that my community has a lot to do with my artwork. It is here in Cass Lake that I become a part of Ogichidaakweg, or as we call it “Sisters.” It’s a program for girls and women that want to use photography to speak what they see and what they know. It has taught me how to step out into my community. It has shown me how to get important issues noticed. And getting things noticed is usually the first step to creating change. 

I am now a freshman at Leech Lake Tribal College, kinda’ funny considering the fact that I am so much older now. I lost more than five years to an overwhelming drug addiction but I’ve been in recovery now for two years (almost a lifetime). Now I am focusing on keeping myself on the road of sobriety. I want to stay strong for the youth that look up to me. I have so many younger cousins that follow in my steps, plus nephews and nieces. They don't need to follow the road of drug addiction like I did. I plan to use my talents as a photographer to remind them of that. 

All our Dreams can come true, If we have the courage to pursue them. ….Walt Disney