One of the art works I’ll talk about with high school students on an tour I’m leading tomorrow at the Winnipeg Art Gallery is this landscape/portrait by Saskatchewan artist Joe Fafard. His piece is called Manitoba. Fafard has chosen a Metis man to represent our province. I will ask the kids why Fafard would do that. Was it because the founder of our province Louis Riel was Metis? Might it be because Fafard grew up in a French and Metis community on the Saskatchewan and Manitoba border? Why has Fafard depicted a geographical place with a person?
I’ll ask the students to come up with adjectives to describe the man. How has Fafard used color, shape, line and texture to give the sculpture personality and provide insight into the character of the person portrayed? If the sculpture was a Metis woman instead of a Metis man how might that woman be depicted?
I’ll show students a clay and acrylic version of Manitoba which Fafard made in 1975, thirteen years before he made the bronze piece in the Winnipeg Art Gallery collection. How are they the same or different? How are the differences related to the different materials used and how might the differences reflect different ideas about the sculpture’s subject, message or audience?
I am very curious to hear how the students will answer these questions. I always learn so much from them.