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Indigenous artisans

Alex Janvier - Denesuline and Saulteaux

Native ArtistBorn of Denesuline and Saulteaux descent in 1935, Alex Janvier was raised in the nurturing care of his family until the age of eight. At this age, the young Janvier was uprooted from his home and sent to the Blue Quills Indian Residential School near St. Paul, Alberta. Although Janvier speaks of having a creative instinct from as far back as he can remember, it was at the residential school that he was given the tools to create his first paintings. Unlike many aboriginal artists of his time, Janvier received formal art training from the Alberta College of Art in Calgary and graduated with honours in 1960. Immediately after graduation, Janvier took up an opportunity to instruct art at the University of Alberta.

As a member of the commonly referred to “Indian Group of Seven”, Janvier is one of the significant pioneering aboriginal artists in Canada, and as such has influenced many generations of aboriginal artists. In January 2004, one of Janvier’s works was displayed in Paris, France at the Canadian Forum on Cultural Enterprise. In recognition of his success, Alex Janvier recently received three prestigious Lifetime Achievement Awards from the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation, The Tribal Chiefs Institute, and Cold Lake First Nations. Janvier’s passion and natural talents for creative expression remains strong to this day.

 

Andy Everson - Kwakwaka'wakw Artist

Andy Everson was born in Comox B.C. in 1972 and named Nagedzi after his grandfather, the late Chief Andy Frank. Influenced heavily by his grandmother, he has always been driven to uphold the traditions of both the K'ómoks and Kwakwaka’wakw First Nations. His cultural interests are expressed through dancing, singing, and even the completion of a Master’s degree in anthropology.

Andy feels that his artwork stands on par with these other accomplishments. Although he began drawing Northwest Coast art at an early age, his first serious attempt wasn’t until 1990 when he started designing and painting chilkat-style blankets for use in potlatch dancing. From these early self-taught lessons he has tried to follow in the footsteps of his Kwakiutl relatives in creating bold and unique representations that remain rooted in the age-old traditions of his ancestors.

Andy’s artwork is renowned for its contemporary edge that forges a connection between the past and the present.

 

Bill Reid, Haida Artist (1920-1988)


One of Canada's foremost Native artists, Bill Reid is widely recognized as having revived the great tradition of Haida art. Born in Victoria, B.C., he is the grand-nephew of Haida artist Charles Edenshaw. Reid has applied innovative techniques to his artistic legacy and has passed on his valuable knowledge to younger artists.

Children of the Raven was designed by Bill Reid in 1976 for the National Museum of Man (now the Canadian Museum of History). This image celebrates the creation of humankind by Raven. It now graces a series of products developed exclusively for the Canadian Museum of Civilization.

Cecil Youngfox - Ojibway Artist (1942- 1987

Cecil Youngfox - Ojibway Artist (1942- 1987
Cecil Youngfox was born in 1942 in Blind River, Ontario, of Ojibway and Metis parents. As an established Canadian native artist, he was renowned for his vivid and sensitive depiction of native traditions, which gained the interest and respect of public and private collectors in Canada and abroad. He was awarded the Aboriginal Order of Canada for his work in preserving his native heritage.
Mr. Youngfox’s untimely death came in 1987 at age of 45. However, the inspiration in his art still lives on.

 

Curtis Wilson, Kwakwaka’wakw Artist

 

 

Curtis was born, raised and lived in Campbell River. His family came from the four corners of the Kwakwaka’wakw territory. Mulidzas is the traditional name handed to Curtis Wilson during a family Potlatch held in 2001.

Curtis received a Bachelor of Arts degree in First Nations Studies from Malaspina University/College in 2002. He had been a part of the Laichwiltach Culture Group for many years and was very adamant about learning his culture and heritage. Curtis continued to teach the younger generations about the culture, songs and dances. Curtis was sketching and drawing in his teens, but never started learning how to carve until the late age of 18. He learned to carve at small a shed built by his grandfather, Sam Henderson Sr., under the instruction of many of his uncles and cousins, from whom he adopted many of his techniques and styles. In the course of his artistic career, Curtis taught art at schools and got involved in many projects at the same time. In 2017, he was invited to be Nanaimo Art Gallery to feature his art in a show.
One of Curtis’ life goal was to learn as much about his culture and heritage, to expand his visions in art and also pass it on to the next generations.

At the height of his successful career, Wilson died tragically from a sudden heart attack in October 2019.

Daphne Odjig, Potawatomi Artist (1919 - 2016)

Daphne Odjig is one of Canada’s most celebrated Aboriginal painters and printmakers. Born on Manitoulin Island’s Wikwemikong reserve of Odawa, Potawatomi and English heritage, she first learned about art-making from her grandfather, Jonas Odjig, a tombstone carver who taught her to draw and paint. She later moved to British Columbia.

Odjig’s style, which underwent several developments and adaptations from decade to decade, manages to always remain identifiable. Mixing traditional Aboriginal styles and imagery with Cubist and Surrealist influences, Odjig’s work is defined by curving contours, strong outlining, overlapping shapes and an unsurpassed sense of colour. Her work has addressed issues of colonization, the displacement of Aboriginal peoples, and the status of Aboriginal women and children, bringing Aboriginal political issues to the forefront of contemporary art practices and theory. The jury described Daphne Odjig’s work as “groundbreaking”, noting her unique voice and her role as a “real champion” of Aboriginal artists. Sadly Daphne Odjig passed away in 2016, at the age of 97.

 

Dawn Oman, Yellowknives Dene Artist

Dawn Oman was born in Yellowknife, North West Territories, of Yellowknives Dene and Welsh descent. Directly descended from Chief Snuff, who signed Treaty 8 with the Canadian Government, she began to draw as a means of silently amusing herself and staying out of her foster families' way. Since then, Dawn has exhibited across North America, opened her own Studio Gallery, and won awards and important commissions for her artwork. The Royal Canadian Mint Limited Edition 50 Cent Collectors coin in the 2003 Festival Series commemorating the Great Northern Arts Festival features Dawn's "Rising Star."

Dawn's main theme is winter; her snowy bright images capture the essence of the North in the dark time, cold, but full of colour. Her use of swirling colours representing the northern lights is a recognizable and recurrent theme throughout her works, as is her bold use of colour and brilliant combinations. What began as a way to make herself quietly invisible has brought an exuberant and joyful presence to the contemporary Canadian arts scene.


Francis Dick - Kwakwaka'wakw Artist

 

Francis Dick is a contemporary Native artist and a member of the Kwakwaka'wakw Nation. Francis was born in 1959 in ‘Yalis (Alert Bay) into the Musga’makw Dzawada’enuxw Band of Kingcome Inlet. She is a descendant of the Kawadelakala (Supernatural Wolf), who shed his animal form to become the first of the Kingcome people. She is adept in Dzawada'enuxw art style.
Francis’s work whether visual, lyrical or verbal is strongly influenced by her cultural heritage. Much of her earlier art contains images of her family’s Kawadelekala legend. However as Francis’s style and art form developed, she began to work on images outside of her culture. Nonetheless, her cultural traditions still have a strong influence on her work.
Francis finds meaning in her life through her creativity in art, which she ‘dreams up’ and constructs. She plays an integral part within the Native art community in Canada. She has been invited to speak for various community organizations, women’s groups and university classes.
Today, Francis’ art is internationally renowned. Her story has been heard in various universities around the world, and her art travelled worldwide and was exhibited in North America, Asia and Europe. She presently lives in Victoria, B.C. where she is continually working with her creative expressions to fabricate a meaningful way of life.


James Jacko - Odawa-Pottawatomi Artist

 James Jacko is of the Three Fires Conferacy from the Wilwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve, Manitoulin Island and is of Odawa / Pottawan First Nations. James started painting in 1977, but has always been creative in different medium. He is a self-taught artist and he loved using the theme “creation”. His greatest influences come from his family, most of whom are very detailed in their own style either through arts and crafts, trades, and work ethic, along with strong cultural surroundings and beauty of his home community. James’ artwork has been shown in numerous group art shows and exhibits in North America and has found its way in man private and corporate collections around the globe. James continues with his artwork in a private setting in his community where his strongest influences are.

 

James Johnson - Tlingit Ch’áak’ Dakl’aweidi Clan Artist


James Johnson was born and raised in Juneau, AK. He belongs to the Tlingit Ch’áak’ Dakl’aweidi Clan (Eagle Killerwhale). He taught himself the fundamentals of Tlingit formline design, and traditional carving. James's great great grandfather was Chief Gusht’eiheen of Angoon, AK. His great grandfather was Chief Jimmy Johnson, and his grandfather was Chief Peter Johnson. Whom he is named after - James Peter Johnson. James’s strong ancestral history led him to purse the Tlingit art form. His late father, Franklin Johnson, first encouraged him to begin carving. James has now dedicated his life to perpetuating the Tlingit art form, honoring his ancestors thru his work.

 

Jamie Sterritt - Wii Nagim Tts'uwingat, Gitksan Artist

 

 Jamie Sterritt is a member of the Gitksan nation in the Skeena river area of northern British Columbia, now living in Kamloops with his daughters. His work is based on traditional northwest coast design, and is true to Gitksan art. He acquired his interest in the art from his father and uncles who are accomplished artists and craftsmen in their own right. Jamie is a member of the Kispiox wolf clan. His Gitksan name is Wii Nagim Tts'uwingat.

John Rombough - Chipewyan Dene Artist

 Chipewyan Dene artist John Rombough was born in the remote community of Sioux Lookout in Northern Ontario, Canada. At the age of three, John was adopted by Carol and Lyall Rombough, a Prince Edward Island couple. He attributes his early interest in drawing and painting to being raised in their giving and artistic environment.
John is a self-taught contemporary woodland painter. He uses strong supporting black lines and vibrant colours. His main mentors are artists such as Ojibwe Norval Morrisseau, the grandfather of contemporary woodland style, and those from the ‘Native Group of Seven’.
As a young adult, John began the search for his birth parents. He discovered his biological father, Alfred Catholique, living in the tiny community of Lutselk’e on the shores of Great Slave Lake in Canada’s pristine Northwest Territories.
Warmly welcomed by all the Catholique family, John decided to move to the community in order to rediscover his cultural identity. John Rombough’s painting style has since changed to reflect the harmony of the Dene people with the natural world. His distinctive modern aboriginal designs encompass his own personal visions and strong connection with nature. John’s paintings communicate to all nations through visual interpretation and brilliantly mixed colours. His art sends the message of compassion and respect.
As John works toward creating original pieces, Ceremonial Drum Songs flow through his thoughts, songs that represent Dene teachings and spiritual way of life. Sacred teachings past down from ancestors through his visions inspire John to live a healthy, creative lifestyle, honoring ancestral teachings of ‘respect for self, respect for people and respect for the land’.
John Rombough is recognized as a role model throughout Northwest Territories and takes his role very seriously. His paintings are instrumental in conveying a message to the youth, a message of encouragement, leadership, strength, will power, and determination. New cultural discoveries continue to provide him with an inexhaustible reservoir of ideas to put to canvas.

Maxine Noel - Ioyan Mani, Sioux Artist

  Ioyan Mani - to walk beyond - is Maxine's Sioux name that reveals her gift. Maxine is Oglala Sioux, born on the Birdtail Reservation in Manitoba. The eldest of eleven children, she learned to draw among a loving family on a quiet reserve. In residential school she experienced the struggles of submersion of the native spirituality and culture, which brought her strength and enrichment. Maxine was appointed in 2019 as a member of the Order of Canada for her work as a visual artist and for encouraging and promoting creative expression in Indigenous communities.


A self-taught artist, Maxine is skilled in many media. She seeks through the use of fluid images, flowing lines and subtle colours, to present essential characteristics of the Native people: their sensibilities, generosity and loving nature. Maxine has received honours and accolades for her work with Native cultures, and she speaks around the country on art and on social issues, assisting in bridging the gap between Native and non-Native, young and old.

Maxine was a recipient of the Order of Canada in 2019 for her notable achievements.

 
Norval Morrisseau - Ojibwa Artist (1931-2007)

 Norval Morrisseau described himself as a "born artist" who had a compulsion to draw from his earliest memories. He was a prolific artist and published author who was also a cornerstone to the art movement considered the Woodland School of Art. He received international acclaim for his art and was dubbed the "Picasso of the North" by world renowned artist Marc Chagall who, together with Pablo Picasso, attended a Morrisseau exhibit in 1969.

Morrisseau was the recipient of numerous honourary degrees, a membership in the Order of Canada, a membership in the Royal Academy of Arts, the Aboriginal Lifetime Achievement Award and was the first First Nations artist to have a solo exhibit in the National Gallery of Canada which now houses a permanent collection of his art. His work was also exhibited in the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. In recognition of his talents and contributions to the Aboriginal community, he was awarded a Great Eagle Feather and was appointed the Grand Shaman by the Ojibwa.

Norval Morrisseau passed away in December 2007, but his legacy as a Canadian treasure survive                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Amy Keller-Rempp

                                                                                                         

 

Métis (German and Tyendinaga Mohawk), Ontario

Amy Keller-Rempp is Métis, the daughter of a hard-working German-born pipeline worker (Dale) and a proud and nurturing Tyendinaga Mohawk woman (Bonnie), both of whom supported and encouraged her to pursue her artistic talents. Growing up in rural Ontario provided the aspiring artist with many ideas, a great deal of inspiration and an opportunity to study animals and their habitats.

Amy Keller-Rempp is an amazingly talented Canadian artist. She was born with a God-given talent, and she believes her First Nations ancestry (Mohawk), and her memory of her father drives her passion. She uses mostly acrylic and oil, on many different types of canvas, and has developed several unique styles that she describes as Modern Impressionism. Her ability to grind and sculpt metal makes her one of the top metal art artists in the world.

“My parents,” she explained, “have always been the driving force. They often told me how proud they were of me; both said I would be famous one day. They encouraged me to continue to grow and though my dad is no longer here, I still feel that encouragement.”