The Art Bank acquires seven works of contemporary Indigenous art

May 6, 2016

Ottawa, ‪May 6, 2016 - The Canada Council Art Bank has acquired seven works by leading Indigenous artists in Canada. This is the first major acquisition by the Art Bank in over two years, and features emerging and established Indigenous artists. The pieces were selected following consultations with the members of the artistic community led by the Art Bank staff. The works – and their addition to the Art Bank collection speak to the Council's commitment to Indigenous arts and {Re}conciliation.

  • Barry Ace, For King and Country (2015), Manitoulin, Ont. (M'Chigeeng), currently residing in Ottawa
  • Sonny Assu, Selective History (2012), Laich-kwil-tach of the Wei Wai Kai First Nation - Cape Mudge, B.C., currently residing in South Surrey, B.C.
  • Jordan Bennett, Why Are Native Americans (2012), Stephenville Crossing, N.L. (Mi'kmaq), currently residing in Kelowna, B.C.
  • Dana Claxton, Headdress (2016), Lakota First Nations-Wood Mountain reserve, Sask., currently residing in Vancouver
  • Amy Malbeuf, The Mealy Mountains and Three Artists Fly North (2013), Rich Lake, Alta. (Métis) currently residing in Kelowna, B.C.
  • Adrian Stimson, Shaman Exterminator, Playing on the Playa (2009-10), Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. (Siksika), currently residing in Saskatoon

Barry Ace’s For King and Country (2015) utilizes cultural markers such as porcupine quills, deer hide and glass beads. The piece denounced the policies of the federal Indian Act which denied the vote to Indigenous people, many of whom fought overseas during the First and Second World Wars. To raise public awareness of this issue, For King and Country will be featured in the Canada Council for the Arts’ forthcoming exhibition Punctured Landscape which is on display in Âjagemô at 150 Elgin Street from May 12th to October 2nd, 2016.

(Photo: Brandon Clarida)

Barry Ace - For King and Country
Sonny Assu - Selective History

Sonny Assu’s archival pigment print on paper Selective History (2012) critiques the use of historically oppressive language by the Canadian government to proliferate the notion of the “Indian Problem.”

(Photo: Brandon Clarida)

Jordan Bennett’s reproduction of a screen capture of a Canadian Google search engine in acrylic on canvas, Why Are Native Americans (2012) questions the legitimacy of information circulated about the Indigenous people of Canada in the digital age.

(Photo: Brandon Clarida)

Jordan Bennett - Why Are Native Americans
Dana Claxton - Headdress

In Dana Claxton’s Headdress (2016), the Bead acts as a marker of Indigenous identity to be celebrated, but its commodification, reconsidered.

(Photo: Brandon Clarida)

Amy Malbeuf’s The Mealy Mountains and Three Artists Fly North (2013) harness beadwork as a central means of exploring identity. For Malbeuf, the intention is to translate abstract expressionist techniques to bead work.

(Photo: Brandon Clarida)

Amy Malbeuf Three Artists Fly North and The Mealy Mountains
Adrian Stimson - The Shaman Exterminator Playing on the Playa

Adrian Stimson’s series of six digital photographs The Shaman Exterminator Playing on the Playa brings to life the duality between stereotypes and realities of “Indian” identity. The series, originally printed in 2009/10 for an exhibition at the Canadian Cultural Centre in Paris, France, showcases a new, playful side of Stimson’s performance character: The Shaman Exterminator.

(Photo: courtesy of the artist)

With themes ranging from current impressions of Indigenous people as told through Google search algorithms; to the appropriation and re-appropriation of cultural symbols; to military service while denied the right to vote, these works were selected for the timely and critical nature as we collectively move towards reconciliation. We are delighted these pieces will be part of the Art Bank’s collection and made available to Canadians through our rental and outreach programs as well as our website.

Tara Lapointe, Director Outreach and Business Development, Canada Council

General information

The Canada Council Art Bank, with approximately 17,500 works, has the largest collection of contemporary Canadian art in the world. It was created to support the efforts of Canadian visual artists and to provide government and corporate offices with the opportunity to rent Canadian art for their offices and public spaces. Since 2001, the Canada Council Art Bank has acquired close to 900 works through its purchase program. Currently, one third of the collection is on rental and displayed in office and public spaces, giving Canadians across the country access to a variety of works by Canadian artists.

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