Dana Claxton, Daddy’s Gotta New Ride, 2008
From the artist’s website:
“I’m influenced by my own experience as a Lakota woman, a Canadian, a mixed-blood Canadian, and my own relationship to the natural and supernatural world. That whole bundle of experiences goes in to the artwork. I think that’s where the multi-layering comes in, because I’ve had a very multi-layered life.”
Jeff Thomas, The Delegate Visits Indian Battle Park, 2008
This work is from Thomas’ Indians on Tour series. On his website he explains:
“The Indians on Tour series expands on the street photographer aesthetic, but from a First-Nations perspective. Would that tradition expand or stay the same? I realized that it could not stay the same if I was going to be able to address the urban Aboriginal experience. The series began to take shape after I received a box in the mail from my friend Ali Kazimi. Inside was a set of plastic Indian figures with a note suggesting that I would find something interesting to do with them. Bear [Thomas’ son] had just moved to the British Columbia and I was left without my muse. I began experimenting with the toy Indians by posing them in my everyday world to see what would happen.”
Allen Sapp, Hauling Logs, n.d.
Sapp was born on the Red Pheasant Reserve of Saskatchewan in 1928. His mother died of tuberculosis when he was very young and he was raised by his grandparents. Sapp’s grandmother taught him to draw during his frequent bouts of illness.
Sapp’s art often deals depicts the contemporary lives of the Northern Plains Cree. He was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1986 for his contributions to Canadian art.
Unknown Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) artist
Bandolier Bags, c.1900
Bandolier bags were made by the Western Great Lakes tribes. They started making them in the 1700s, although beaded bags like the ones pictured did not show up until the late 19th century. They are likely modelled from both military ammunition pouches and the smaller tobacco pouches that had been traditionally used by the Ojibwe.
Bandolier bags were made as ceremonial wear for respected tribe members or as a friendship gift to members of other tribes. Higher ranking people would often wear more than one at a time.
Joe David & Preston Singletary
Thunderbird Egg, c.2011
This glass and steel sculpture is a result of a collaboration between Nuu-chah-nulth artist Joe David and Tlingit artist Preston Singletary.
The artists are extremely close, in fact, David ceremonially adopted Singletary in 2000.
Louis Philippe Hébert
Sigh of the Lake, 1903
Hébert was a prominent French-Canadian sculptor who is perhaps best known for his public sculptures and monuments, such as his series of figures Parliament Hill.
The above work shows a common theme in Hébert’s work, a romanticized vision of the “disappearing Indian”. He was fascinated with native culture and an avid fan of James Fenimore Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans. Hébert referred to his subjects as the ”most interesting, strange, and unhappy races.“
This statuette depicts an sexualized Algonquin women leaning on her nigog (fishing spear). This type of objectifying portrayal of First Nations women was common to both Hébert and his contemporaries.
Norval Morrisseau/Copper Thunderbird
Observations of the Astral World, c. 1994
From the National Gallery of Canada:
“Evoking a relationship between Anishnaabe cosmology, shamanistic symbolism, and teachings from Eckankar, the religion Morrisseau joined in the mid-seventies that combines Eastern and Christian spirituality, Anishnaabe cultural manifestations in this work may be seen in relation to some of the ideas given expression in Eckankar, most notably the concept of Eck current, that is believed to connect all living things. The basic symmetry of the composition is enriched through the subtle alteration of colour and division of space. A shaman, in the process of transforming into a thunderbird, is the principal figure on the right side of the picture. Traversing the various zones, or realms, we see a school of fish, who act as symbols for the underworld spirits, there to provide balance to the spiritual realm inhabited by the shaman. The group of human beings represent human interrelationships, but they can also be understood as symbols of the interaction possible with the spirit world.”
Unknown Ojibwe artist
Mishipeshu, c.17th-18th centuries
These rock pictographs are found at Agawa Rock in Lake Superior Park. They depict Mishipeshu, a powerful underwater reptile-lynx creature that the Ojibwe feared as he was responsible for drownings and other water-related deaths. Here, Mishipeshu is accompanied by some men in a canoe and two chignebikoogs, giant snakes.
Love Is?, n.d.
“When I carve, I am giving part of myself. I put so much energy and passion into the carving that I am working on that I am physically and mentally drained when the carving is finished. I do not like wearing a protective mask when I’m carving, so I know that the dust I’m breathing in is killing me. Each carving that I make takes so much out of me.”
-excerpt from Cape Dorset Sculpture, Spirit Wrestler Gallery, 2005.