Lasting Images - Daphne Odjig
As an Art History/Museum studies major, I have studied numerous types of art and artists. Over the last three years, some of the most influential courses I have taken are from the Native American Studies (NAS) Department.
It was in a NAS course that I was able to view significant First Nations Métis Inuit (FNMI) works from the University of Lethbridge Art Gallery Collection. With the rest of my class, I was able to view works by Alex Janvier, Norval Morriseau and Daphne Odjig. All of these artists were members of the Professional National Indian Artists Inc., a group that the media famously labelled, “the Indian Group of Seven.” Out of these three artists, the one who stood out the most, in my opinion, was Odjig, because of her graphic style and organic forms. As I further researched her and her work, I became aware of Odjig’s positive impact on the arts in Canada.
Born in Wikwemikong, Manitoulin Island, this self-taught, half Pottawatomi, half English artist is known for painting, drawing, collage and printmaking. Odjig’s images depict stories and beliefs from her culture. In addition to creating art, Odjig has been branded as the unofficial Ambassador of First Nations Culture within Canada because of her constant promotion of FNMI art and artists throughout the country. Odjig owned and operated Odjig Prints of Canada and the Warehouse Gallery, and was a co-founder and recruiter of the Professional Indian Artists Incorporation. Morgan Wood has noted that Odjig’s goal in life has been “to keep the stories and beliefs alive and circulating for people to come and to inspire other artists to exhibit their culture-based works.” It is because of her commitment to support artists and successfully exhibit her own work that Odjig’s prints are some of my favourite works in the Gallery’s collection.
Museum Studies Intern, Department of Art