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Carl Ray, Medicine Bear

Carl Ray, Medicine Bear (1977), acrylic on canvas [Kelowna Art Gallery, Kelowna BC, Oct 11-Jan 4] Photo: Don Hall

7: Professional Native Indian Artists Inc.

Kelowna Art Gallery
Kelowna BC – Oct 11, 2014-Jan 4, 2015

Daphne Odjig, Thunderbird of Courage

Daphne Odjig, Thunderbird of Courage (1977), acrylic on canvas [Kelowna Art Gallery, Kelowna BC, Oct 11-Jan 4] Photo: Don Hall / Private Collection / © Daphne Odjig

In November 1973, artist Daphne Odjig invited fellow First Nations artists Jackson Beardy, Eddy Cobiness, Alex Janvier, Norval Morriseau, Carl Ray and Joseph Sanchez to her Winnipeg home to discuss art. A result of this discussion was Professional Native Indian Artists Incorporated (PNIAI), an enterprise funded by the Department of Indian Affairs that focused on the promotion of commercial exhibitions of First Nations art and the artistic development of First Nations youth.

Although the PNIAI disbanded in 1975, its impact was immediate and endures to this day. Dubbed the “Indian Group of Seven” by the Winnipeg Free Press, the artists participated in numerous group exhibitions throughout the country; and, as art historian Doris Shadbolt did with the Vancouver Art Gallery’s Arts of the Raven exhibit in 1967, they made a case for First Nations art created today being contemporary art, not prehistoric artifact.

Now, some 40 years later, Odjig, a resident of Kelowna and still a force at 95, is presiding over a revisitation of the work of the PNIAI. Regina’s MacKenzie Art Gallery, which initiated this rich exhibition, has also placed the exhibition catalogue online (www.mackenzieartgallery.ca).

Michael Turner

Joseph Sanchez, Family Portrait

Joseph Sanchez, Family Portrait (1974), coloured pencil and ink on paperboard [Kelowna Art Gallery, Kelowna BC, Oct 11-Jan 4] Courtesy of Ann Sanchez © Joseph Sanchez/ Photo: Don Hall

 Sun, Sep 7, 2014