A generous person just donated this beautiful book Portraits of the North by Gerald Kuehl to our church library. Gerald has done these absolutely amazing pencil portraits of an older generation of indigenous people. Each sketch which took him between sixty to a hundred hours to create looks so real you will think it is a photograph.
Opposite each portrait is a short story of the person’s life. You learn about their childhoods raised in the traditional lifestyle of the north, and then how that life was changed often by residential school experiences, a stay in a TB sanatorium or the development of hydro projects. Finally you learn of each person’s accomplishments and contributions and receive additional information about what life has brought their way.
There are well over a hundred portraits and stories in the book so to really appreciate them I’d recommend you only read one or two at a time so you can think about the stories and study the pictures closely.
You can go on Gerald’s website to see more examples of the wonderful portraits from his book. On his website I learned he is currently working on a collection of portraits of people from the Inuit community called Portraits of the Far North. I will look forward to that as well and think it will be a great resource for the Inuit Art tours I give at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.
Gerald’s book provides an intimate portrait of the effects colonization has had on indigenous men and women, but we are not left feeling sorry for them. As we study the lines in their faces and look deeply into their eyes we are moved. Here are people with a resilient spirit who can inspire us.
Are You Sure They Aren’t Photographs?
Inuit Fashion Show
Dave’s Vision Quest
Hopi at the Heard -Pottery
This whole controversy about the statues of famous people and whether they should be removed has me thinking. Should we stop honoring people when we erect statues and rather honor ideas? I’ve featured many statues on this blog of famous Canadians I actually thought were worthy of praise, but now I’m wondering if they all had a dark side? A little research makes it clear many of them did. For example……..
Here I am with Emily Murphy on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. She was instrumental in achieving personhood for Canadian women so they were no longer considered their husbands’ or fathers’ property. Yet according to the Toronto Globe and Mail Emily wrote articles attacking Chinese immigrants, American blacks, Jews and other Eastern Europeans who had chosen Canada as their home.
Here I am in Gambo Newfoundland with a statue of Joey Smallwood. He is credited with bringing Newfoundland into the modern age and into Confederation but there are many people who saw him as autocratic and interested mainly in self promotion. They criticize the way he often sided with bankers and industrialists rather than unions and laborers.
emptyful by Bill Pechet
Perhaps it is time to stop honoring people with statues and just honor ideas instead. For example the statue emptyful at the Winnipeg Millenium Library honors the beauty of the wide open spaces of the prairies. Who could quarrel with that?
This sculpture in Quebec City honors the idea of education. An outstretched hand sits on a pile of books. The hand has a feather. This shows how an education helps us learn to read and write and become literate people. Who could quarrel with that?
Perhaps its time to stop honoring people with sculptures and focus on honoring worthwhile ideas instead.
The Famous Five
Holding Joey Smallwood’s Hand
A Pen or a Wing?
Did you know slavery was legal in Canada til 1834? The ad above was one of many placed in Canadian newspapers by owners looking for their runaway slaves. In the Art Gallery of Ontario ‘s exhibit Every. Now. Then: Reframing Nationhood artists Camille Turner and Camal Pirbhai have tried to restore humanity to these runaway slaves by dressing them up and photographing them in modern day costumes that compare to the 1800s style clothes the slaves are described as wearing in the ads.
This woman is sheathed in a calico gown, holding a silk hankie and wearing a dress hat just like the runaway slave described in the ad. But the black woman in the photograph is free and no one’s slave. Camille Turner and Camal Pirbhai hope portraying the runaway slave this way will make people more aware that slavery was part of Canada’s history.
A Man Affectionately Deplored By His Wife
A Black and White Religion
In 1986 when the curators of the Picasso Museum in Antibes France decided to paint a memorial artwork to honour Picasso, a Canadian woman was chosen as one of four artists from around the world to help create the memorial. Her name was Daphne Odjig.
Daphne died last year at age 97 after a remarkable career. She was dubbed Picasso’s Grandmother by fellow indigenous artist Norval Morrisseau. Daphne discovered the paintings of Picasso in the 1950s and carefully studied and analyzed his work. Picasso upon seeing Daphne’s work at an exhibition called her ‘a remarkable artist’.
Tribute to Picasso by Daphne Odjig
Daphne is sometimes referred to as the Grandmother of Indigenous Art. Joseph Sanchez says Daphne was indeed a ‘grandmother’ figure to many indigenous artists. “Her energy guided us,” he says. She also gave indigenous artists financial support by buying their paintings for her gallery.
I always end my Picasso tours at the Winnipeg Art Gallery by going to look at Daphne’s painting Friends Rejoicing in our collection and tell my tour participants about Canada’s Grandmother Picasso.
The Song My Paddle Sings
An Award Winner Inspires Teens
A Different View of the World
What could be more Canadian than a canoe? Just after entering The Common, the refurbished new eating area at The Forks you can look up and see a trio of fun sculptures by Winnipeg artist Jordan Van Sewell. I noticed them for the first time last week when I met my friend Esther at The Forks for a walk and lunch.
Nineteen diverse and interesting characters represent Canada’s people, animals, symbols and strengths. Canoes are certainly a very Canadian mode of transportation. They were invented by indigenous Canadians and played a big role in the building of our country as they transported furs and supplies and people. The sculptures are inclusive. After looking at the three canoes closely I think every Canadian could identify with at least one of the characters in some way. I like it that the artist included animals too because co-existing on this earth with all God’s creatures is important.
The waters each canoe moves through are different. Here the canoe is gliding down frothy night waters. Check out the poppy in the first character’s lapel who I think may be a miner holding a shovel. There’s a musician perhaps of Italian descent paddling with his guitar and the polar bear has a paddle too.
If you visit The Forks you are sure to encounter a wide diversity of people. Jordan Van Sewell’s artwork Canoes represents that so well. If you’ve never noticed these sculptures check them out the next time you are at The Forks.
A Waterfall at the Library
Katherina Vermette on the Wall
The Guess Who on the Wall
We had a fun time down at The Forks celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday.
Hanging out at the Oodena Celebration Circle listening to the amazing aboriginal drummers and watching the First Nations dancers. Checking out the Human Rights Museum and bumping into old friends Robin and Craig. It was so great to catch up with them.
People watching and marveling at the diversity of the Canadian population. Some people have been in our country for thousands of years, others for a few generations and some have just arrived. We represent so many races and cultures and religions and languages and that was in very clear evidence watching the crowds of people down at the Forks yesterday. Visiting my colleagues at the Winnipeg Art Gallery container where they were inviting visitors to design their own Canadian flag. Enjoying some great food from Nu Burger down on the river front while listening to the Riel Mens Chorus sing. Here we bumped into our friends Werner and Adelia and had a nice visit with them. Listening to our friends Bruno and Caroline perform with the Winnipeg Philharmonic Choir. They sang O Canada in both languages, and a wonderful variety of pieces including an Inuit song, Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah and an arrangement of Oscar Peterson’s Hymn to Freedom that included these words…………. When every hand joins every hand and together moulds our destiny, That’s when we’ll be free.
O Canada- Traveling the Country
Canada Day in Leamington
Treking to the Tip of Canada
She’s in Canada and she cries! In the most recent episode of the television series The Handmaid’s Tale a young woman is on the run trying to escape sexual slavery at the hands of the patriarchal, religious, totalitarian regime that governs the United States. She finds herself in a barn where a truck is stored. She has no idea where she is but she has been running for a very long time through forests and fields. She falls down on the ground in exhaustion and reaches up her hand to wipe the snow and grime off the truck’s licence plate so she can read it. It says ONTARIO and she weeps with joy and relief.
Sitting in the speaker’s chair in Canada’s House of Commons
That scene made me cry. I have never been happier to be a Canadian citizen than I am this Canada Day. I know it isn’t something to take for granted and I also know Canada has many problems it still needs to work on, (see yesterday’s post) …….. but right now I am awfully happy to live in a country where I know people can legally love and marry whom they want, where women have control over their own bodies, where the government’s cabinet is gender equal, where we welcome refugees, where what scientists have to say about climate change is given credence, where health care is free to all and where we have sensible laws about gun ownership.
I am enormously grateful to Canada for letting my grandparents and my husband’s parents come here when they were in such desperate circumstances, and giving our families the opportunity to build meaningful rewarding lives that have contributed to making Canada a better place.
Thoughts on Refugees
Steinbach Pride- Homecoming Forgiveness and Hope
Let Me Count The Ways