Search for "Indigenous Art"

Displaying 1-20 of 25 results
Article

Northwest Coast Indigenous Art

More than 3,000 years ago, Indigenous peoples of the coast of British Columbia (and adjacent areas of Washington State and southeastern Alaska) such as the Haida and Kwakwaka'wakw developed artistic traditions that are heralded throughout the world for their imaginative and stylistic qualities.

Article

Jackson Beardy

Jackson Beardy (also known as Quincy Pickering Jackson Beardy), Oji-Cree artist (born 24 July 1944 in Island Lake, MB; died 8 December 1984 in Winnipeg, MB). Beardy was part of the Woodlands School of Indigenous art, and in 1973 he became part of a group of Indigenous artists popularly known as the Indian Group of Seven. His stylized artworks — sometimes painted on canvas, birch bark or beaver skins — were often concerned with the interdependence of humans and nature. They also tended to depict figures from Ojibwe and Cree oral traditions. From the late 1960s to his death in the early 1980s, Beardy promoted Indigenous art as a valid category of contemporary art. His influence as a Woodland artist has contributed to the development of contemporary Indigenous art in Canada.

Article

Carl Beam

​Carl Beam (Carl Edward Migwans), artist (born 24 May 1943 in West Bay, Manitoulin Island, ON [now M’Chigeeng First Nation]; died 30 July 2005 in M’Chigeeng First Nation). The first contemporary Indigenous artist whose work was acquired by the National Gallery of Canada, Beam was one of Canada’s most ground-breaking Indigenous artists. (See also Contemporary Indigenous Art in Canada.)

Article

Christi Belcourt

Christi Belcourt, Métis visual artist, activist, author (born 24 September 1966, in Scarborough, ON). The vibrant colours and themes of Belcourt’s art reflect the interconnectedness of nature and human beings. Her art speaks to the struggle for Indigenous identity and sovereignty. Belcourt’s activism focuses on Indigenous issues related to justice, education and meaningful reconciliation. (See also Contemporary Indigenous Art in Canada and Important Indigenous Artists in Canada.)

Article

Maisie Hurley

Maisie Hurley, née Maisie Amy Campbell-Johnston, Vancouver-area political activist, Indigenous ally (see Indigenous Peoples in Canada), newspaper founder and art collector (born 27 November 1887 in Swansea, Wales; died 3 October 1964 in North Vancouver, British Columbia). Although Hurley had no formal legal training or law degree (see Legal Education), she worked on several legal cases and advocated for Indigenous peoples’ basic human rights as well as for changes to the Indian Act. In 1946, Hurley started a newspaper called The Native Voice that aimed to bring attention to important issues concerning Indigenous communities across Canada (see Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Canada). In 2011, Hurley’s collection of Indigenous art was displayed at the North Vancouver Museum.

Article

Robert Davidson

Robert Charles Davidson, CM (also called Guud San Glans, meaning “Eagle of the Dawn" in the Haida language), artist (born on 4 November 1946 in Hydaburg, Alaska). Of Haida and Tlingit descent, Davidson is a highly respected painter, master carver, and printmaker. In his long artistic career, he has expanded the boundaries of Northwest Coast image and design in increasingly complex and unconventional serigraphs, jewellery and sculpture. His work has been displayed across Canada, including at the National Gallery of Canada, the Vancouver Art Gallery, and the Canadian Museum of History, as well as internationally. Davidson was appointed an Officer to the Order of Canada in 1996 and was promoted to Member in 2022. (See also Northwest Coast Indigenous Art in Canada.)

Article

Professional Native Indian Artists Inc., or the “Indian Group of Seven”

The Professional Native Indian Artists Inc. (PNIAI) was one of the first independently organized, self-managed Indigenous artists’ collectives and cultural advocacy groups in Canada. It was established in the early 1970s in Winnipeg, Manitoba. PNIAI consisted of seven independent Indigenous painters, Jackson Beardy, Eddy Cobiness, Alex Janvier, Norval Morrisseau, Daphne Odjig, Carl Ray and Joseph Sanchez.

Though diverse in their painting styles and cultural backgrounds, the founders of PNIAI were united in their determination to advocate for inclusion, recognition, and equal access to art funding. PNIAI has had a formative and enduring influence on the development of contemporary Indigenous art practice, its critical acceptance and public appreciation. PNIAI initiated an era of increasing activism and empowerment for artists and cultural workers of Indigenous ancestry across the country. PNIAI’s efforts paved the way for later arts organizations such as the Society of Canadian Artists of Native Ancestry and the Aboriginal Curatorial Collective. It also helped broaden national awareness of contemporary Indigenous art in Canada.

Article

Alex Janvier

Alex Simeon Janvier, CM, painter (born 28 Feb 1935 on Le Goff reserve, Cold Lake First Nations, near Bonnyville, AB). Recipient of the Governor General's Award for Visual and Media Arts, and a Member of the Order of Canada, Alex Janvier is often referred to as the first Indigenous modernist artist in Canada. Janvier is also one of the founding members of Professional Native Indian Artists Inc., also known as the Indian Group of Seven. His work is in major museum collections throughout Canada, including the National Gallery of Canada, Canadian Museum of History, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, and Winnipeg Art Gallery. (See also Contemporary Indigenous Art in Canada.)

Article

Alan Syliboy

Alan Syliboy, artist, author, musician, filmmaker, book illustrator (born 8 September 1952 on Millbrook First Nation in Truro, NS). Recipient of the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002, Syliboy is a respected artist, with artwork displayed in national and international venues. His visual art, music and written works express his search for family and identity within the celebration of Mi'kmaw traditions and spiritualism. (See also Contemporary Indigenous Art in Canada and Important Indigenous Artists in Canada.)

Article

Daphne Odjig

Daphne Odjig,CM,OBC, visual artist (born 11 September 1919 on Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory, Manitoulin Island, ON; died 1 October 2016 in Kelowna, BC). Odjig was a founding member of the 1970s artists’ allianceProfessional Native Indian Artists Inc., also known as the Indian Group of Seven. Her artistic career spanned six decades and includes lyrical legend paintings, personal reflective memories, and trenchant historical and political critiques. Experimental and creatively fearless, Odjig’s styles and media varied widely with her subject matter. Fluid calligraphic lines characterized her early narrative paintings in the 1960s, while her history paintings in the 1970s were densely expressive. Odjig’s elegiac colour studies of the British Columbia forests were featured in her work in the 1980s. In her long career, Odjig combined her originality as a painter with her social awareness as a feminist to create a body of work that helped bring an Indigenous voice to the foreground of contemporary Canadian art.

Article

Totem Pole

The totem pole (also known as a monumental pole) is a tall structure carved out of cedar wood, created by Northwest Coast Indigenous peoples to serve variously as a signboard, genealogical record and memorial. Some well-known carvers include Mungo Martin, Charles Edenshaw, Henry Hunt, Richard Hunt and Stanley Hunt.

Article

Quillwork

Quillwork refers to the Indigenous art of using coloured porcupine quills to decorate various items such as clothing, bags, medicine bundles and regalia. Quillwork pieces have been preserved in museums and cultural centres across North America. Now considered a rare artform, elders and specialized artists use quillwork to promote cultural traditions.

Article

Carl Ray

Carl Ray, Cree artist, illustrator, editor and art teacher (born January 1943 in Sandy Lake, ON; died 26 September 1978 in Sioux Lookout, ON). Ray was known for his innovative paintings in the Woodlands style and was a founding member of the Indian Group of Seven. Ray’s work has influenced Indigenous art in Canada and can be found in the collections of various galleries and museums across the country.

Article

Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun

Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun, Coast Salish and Okanagan (see Interior Salish) artist and activist (born in 1957 at Kamloops, British Columbia). Yuxweluptun trained at the Emily Carr College of Art (now the Emily Carr University of Art and Design) in the late 1970s and early 1980s, focusing on historical European art. His paintings employ both traditional Northwest Coast imagery (see Northwest Coast Indigenous Art) and surrealist visual language to critique colonialism, racism against Indigenous peoples, capitalism, and environmental destruction, among other issues. In addition to paintings, Yuxweluptun has produced multimedia artworks, videos and performances that are political in nature. In 2013, Yuxweluptun was awarded a Fellowship at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art in Indianapolis, USA. Yuxweluptun’s art is featured in the permanent collections of many prominent galleries and museums in North America.