An exhibit of a critically and politically important group of
First Nation Artists, "7: Professional Native Indian Artists
Inc.," closes this Sunday, January 12 at the MacKenzie
Art Gallery in Regina Saskatchewan. It goes on tour with large
gaps of time between venues, next is Winnipeg Art Gallery from May
9 to August 31, then Kelowna Art Gallery in Kelowna, BC from October
11 to January 4, 2015, and last is the McMichael Canadian Art Collection
in Kleinburg, Ontario near Toronto from October 24, 2015 to January
17, 2016. It is possible that with more publicity this important
exhibit will be accepted at more venues to be seen by more people.
Norval Morrisseau (1932-2007), Carl Ray (1942-1978), Jackson
Beardy (1944-1984), Eddy Cobiness (1933-1996), Daphne Odjig (b.
1919), Alex Janvier (b. 1935), and Joseph Sanchez (b. 1948), comprise
the Group of 7, founded in the early 1970's and officially incorporated
in 1974. This exhibit at the MacKenzie Art Gallery presents 120
pieces but the future shows will exhibit only 85 pieces. Joseph
Sanchez, who resides in Santa Fe, told me issues with the catalog
probably kept publicity down, but the catalog will finally be available
on February 1, 2014. Every piece of art will have its own page in
the catalog, so one can only hope the exhibit finally gets its due.
Alex Janvier and Joseph Sanchez remain the last artists able
to travel and were there in Regina at the opening on September 20,
with curator Michelle LaVallee and Jackson Beardy III, who performed
hoop dance and drum. The group that would become Professional Native
Indian Artists, Inc. (PNIAI) felt the need to "organize and incorporate,
demanding recognition as professional, contemporary artists, to
challenge old constructs and to stimulate a new way of thinking
about contemporary Aboriginal people, their lives and culture."
This happened a generation before the term First Nations was even
coined. Private and public collections donated work and a number
of recently uncovered masterworks that were not publically accessible
have added to the mystique and significance of the exhibit. These
selections "serve to challenge the myth that PNIAI members participated
in a unified Woodland Style', as well as to substantiate the
avant-gardism of the Group." The Group of 7
organized "to fight for their inclusion within the Canadian mainstream
and the contemporary art canon." All this occurred in the era of
Canada's controversial Indian Policy (The White Paper) of 1969,
and PINAI's work "addressed colonialization, exclusion, marginalization
and denial of historical and contemporary realities."
Joseph Sanchez is the only non-Canadian artist in the Group
and met Daphne Odjig in Manitoba in 1971. He served in the U.S.
Marine Corps and deserted to Canada because he refused to train
as a riot police member. He was repatriated under the Gerald Ford
Presidential Amnesty in 1975. He has always been politically active
-- with organizations such as the National Association of Artist
Organizations, MARS (Movimiento Artistico del Rio Salada), ARIZTLAN,
and ARTS -- designing exhibitions, curatorial services, administering
collections and arts consultation. From 2002 to 2010 Sanchez served
as a Director/Curator at MoCNA (the Institute of American Indian
Arts Museum), in 2011 he became exhibition curator of Native
American Art at Dartmouth College.
Sanchez says the Group of 7 was important
because they gave back to the people, they broke down barriers,
they bought art from First Nation artists, created economic opportunities
in the cities and reservations, all the current funding possibilities
for artists, education and curators come from their struggle to
be accepted as legitimate and professional Native Artists. He wrote
in his essay for the show, "we were Indigenous artists who intended
to change a stagnant and conformity-based art world with original
We acknowledged a human relationship to
and responsibility for the diverse life on Earth
became world renowned, his influence extends globally and he remains
one of Canada's greatest artists. Morrisseau and the Group of 7
were able to depict Canada's rich indigenous history with the power
to defy centuries of Eurocentric aesthetic expression
a trail wide enough for all of Canada to follow." Canadian Art Magazine
called the Group of 7 exhibit Ten
Art Shows to See This Fall.
At first they were refused funding and exhibition space, as
well as the rejection of Native Arts as fine art and being of any
importance. 50 artists were invited and only 7 came together, many
agents told their artists not to join. There was a Canadian Group
of 7, all landscape painters like the Hudson River School in NY.
The press derided them as "The Indian Group of 7" but the PNIAI
kept the name and then legally incorporated to show their resolve.
They finally broke through at Dominion Gallery in Montreal in the
early 70's, the gallery was showing Rodin, and Alex Janvier asked
owner Max Stern, since they were known for bringing art from all
over the world to Canada, why can't they showcase this new art from
inside Canada. That finally did it. And now, says Sanchez, look
at all the awards, the honorary doctorates, the one-man shows, all
the work, all the art, all the people touched and the creation of
the Woodland Art Movement. They will even, in a sense, "take over"
the Canadian Group of 7's own museum when the show travels to the
McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg, Ontario, just outside
Joseph Sanchez paints almost every day at his studio on Lena
Street behind the sprawling Second Street Studios in Santa Fe. After
reading his extensive bio, I told him I should've treated him better
all these years. Joseph laughed and said, "that just means I'm old."
He has now gotten exhibition offers stemming from this show, he
has all the archives and papers from all the old exhibits and organizations.
While the other 6 members have been widely collected, Sanchez has
not had many official Canadian purchases because he was the only
American. He painted side by side with Daphne Odjig because he had
no studio and few supplies. She is 95 now and is a Native and Canadian
icon, she supported so many people back in the day. Odjig says of
the Group of 7, "We acknowledged and supported each
other as artists when the world of fine art refused us entry."
As it turns out, it's a very busy week across Turtle Island.
On Monday, January 13, the Woodland
Cultural Centre (Oshweken, Six Nations) presents a Fashion Show
to open their exhibit, FashioNative that runs
from January 15 to April 18. First Nations designers Angela DeMontigny,
Sage Paul, Chessa Syrette, and Tracy Toulouse will showcase their
wearable art. In New York City, AMERINDA
Inc. presents the film, "Miss Lead" written
by Mary Kathryn Nagle, directed by Madeline Saget, it's about an
18 year old girl who becomes ill and has to move back to the Tri-State
Mining District, where she meets a Quapaw Indian who teaches her
that her illness and identity are rooted in the soil and the land.
NYC based Native actors Dylan Carusona, Dawn Jamieson and Tanis
Parenteau and others have roles. Miss Lead
is showing at the 59E59 Theaters, 59 East 59th St, NYC, from Thursday,
January 16 at 7:15pm until Sunday, January 26 at 3:15pm.
These are not happening in Santa Fe, but because it is Santa
Fe, our friends tell us where the happenings are. There is another
huge, influential exhibit called Beat
Nation that is crossing Canada. Group
of 7 is mostly paintings, as you would expect from 1970's
-- while Beat Nation does not have the usual
complement of Art as Objects, it is hip-hop influenced, mainly installation
and multi-media. The Beat Nation catalog is
a big reason the show has been become popular and influential, perhaps
the Group of 7 catalog will push this exhibit
into prominence. And as a matter of fact, Beat Nation
will be presented at MacKenzie Art Gallery after Group
of 7 ends.
And what is happening in Santa Fe is the Institute
of American Indian Arts MFA Program in Creative Writing, is
holding its Writers Festival Reading Series, as Sherman Alexie,
Linda Hogan, Sherwin Bitsui, Natalie Diaz, Santee Frazier, Chip
Livingston, Ken White, Joan Kane, Gabrielle Calvocoressi, Ramona
Ausubel, Chris Merrill, Melissa Febos and department head Jon Davis,
have been reading all week. IAIA offers a remarkable low residency
MFA in Creative Writing, meaning you commute from your home computer
or laptop and work with these poets and writers as tutors, and with
other authors, and after so many months, festivals, and fees, you
earn an MFA in Creative Writing. This Festival started with award-winning
writer Linda Hogan presenting her new collection of poems "The Remedies"
and ends tonight with Sherman Alexie packing the house again.
Alex Jacobs, 1/10/14
Alex Jacobs, Mohawk, is a visual artist and poet living in Santa
Professional Native Indian Artists Inc. - MacKenzie Art Gallery
7 offers diverse audiences from the many nations across Canada an
unparalleled opportunity to appreciate and engage with the work
by one of Canada's most important early artist alliances
the Professional Native Indian Artists Incorporated (PNIAI).
American Art at Dartmouth - Highlights from the Hood Museum of Art
The fourth in a series of exhibitions presenting the Hood's extensive
and varied holdings, Native American Art at Dartmouth surveys the
breadth and depth of the permanent collection of indigenous art
from North America, from the historic to the contemporary. Guest
curators George Horse Capture, Joe Horse Capture, and Joseph Sanchez
each contribute unique experience and perspective as well as a discerning
eye in the presentation of the Hood's varied holdings of Native
art. This exhibition reveals the transformation of traditional iconography
and showcases the use of non-Native media in contemporary artistic
expression and visual narrative, including the work of former Dartmouth
Artists-in-Residence Allan Houser, Fritz Scholder, T. C. Cannon,
and Bob Haozous.
The Woodland Cultural Centre currently has twelve full-time staff,
four part-time staff, and five on contract. The organization has
various departments: Administration, Museum, Language, Education,
Education Extension, Library and Maintenance. The organization has
a Board of Directors currently with three executive committee members
(Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson, and Secretary/Treasurer) along with
five board members from our three support communities: Mohawks of
the Bay of Quinte, Six Nations of the Grand River and Wahta Mohawks.
Our Board of Directors consists of individuals with a variety of
professional backgrounds such as: a health administrator, educational
assistant, director of finance, former residential school survivor
and elected band councilors.
Nation Hip Hop as Indigenous Culture
This site focuses on the development of hip hop culture within Aboriginal
youth communities and its influence on cultural production. There
has been some criticism over the years by older community members
who see this influence as a break from tradition and the movement
of the culture towards a pop-based mainstream assimilation. But
in Beat Nation we see just the opposite happening. These artists
are not turning away from the traditions as much as searching for
new ways into them. Hip hop is giving youth new tools to rediscover
First Nations culture. What is most striking about this work is
how much of it embraces the traditional within its development.
Institute of American Indian Arts
Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) is the only four-year degree
fine arts institution in the nation devoted to contemporary Native
American and Alaska Native arts. It is devoted to the study of contemporary
arts, as well as the art of education. IAIA also operates two centers,
the Center for Lifelong Education and the Museum of Contemporary