Speak For The Trees

SPEAK FOR THE TREES: Prints from the Permanent Collection

October 4 - December 13, 2009

Featuring works by acclaimed First Nations artists Carl Beam, Norval Morrisseau, Shirley Bear and Brian Marion, the exhibitions explores the relationship between humans, animals and the environment.

Carl Beam, Turle Diaries, 1992, photo-emulsion & acrylic
Carl Beam was born in West Bay (M’Chigeeng) on Manitoulin Island. His Ojibway heritage exerts a strong influence on his art work, though he largely eschews traditional style and imagery. His work is multi-dimensional; the juxtaposition of cultural, symbolic, and personal photo-documentation encourages an active involvement with the viewer in their interpretation. In Turtle Diary, Beam dissolves the distance between the preconceived distinguishable conceptions of the past and the present in order to facilitate the understanding that culture is a flexible system of eco-dependent interrelations. Executed in the photo-emulsion on canvas method popularized by Robert Rauschenberg, Turtle Diary combines textual and visual images that appear incongruous on their own, but which together depict a correlation to the Ojibway creation myth.

Norval Morrisseau, Shaman, serigraph, 27/ 180
Born on Sandy Lake Reserve in Fort William, Ontario, Morrisseau is a renowned Canadian Contemporary artist whose work was instrumental in the progression of Aboriginal art. Drawing on his Anishnaabe heritage, his art is a visual translation of ancient myths and legends of the eastern woodlands previously passed down by the oral tradition. Morrisseau is the celebrated originator of the Woodland School of Art aesthetic, the pictographic style a revitalization of Ojibawy Midewiwin birch bark scroll painting. His striking and innovative characteristic style depicts images delineated in thick outlines and vivid colours, which provide a sense of organic movement and impart a powerful energy.

Shirley Bear, Grandmothers/Grandfathers, 1991, ink on paper
Born on the First Nation Community of Tobique (Negootiook), Bear is a multimedia artist, writer, and Elder, whose work has played a decisive role in Aboriginal and women’s socio-cultural struggles. Symbolic, archetypal, and representative images of women are prominent in her work and challenge the silent status ascribed to women by patriarchal history. Paintings, prints, photographs and multimedia works reveal her continual investigation into the recovery of the essential feminine role in society. Bear studied art in New Brunswick, New Hampshire, Boston and Vancouver, and has served as Cultural Advisor to the British Columbia Institute of Technology, First Nations Education Advisor at the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design and Resident Elder for First Nations House of Learning at UBC.

Brian Marion, Untitled, acrylic on paper
Of Ojibway heritage, Marion was born in Kamsack, Saskatchewan. At the age of 15, Marion began a nine-year apprenticeship with celebrated Canadian artist Norval Morrisseau. Through his art work Marion perpetuates the artistic legacy of Morrisseau and his ideology of universal interconnectedness, and the bold aesthetic of the Woodland School. According to Morrisseau, throughout his apprenticeship Marion “has been able to get inspiration from his native spirituality and with the blessing of the Creator, add his own emotional and intuitive interpretations to produce beautiful art.” Acquiring knowledge and seeking inspiration from the spiritualism of the Ojibway culture as a basis for his compositions, and applying colour to forms derived, in part, from ancient pictographs, his art work is a vibrant interpretation and narrative of Canadian Aboriginal history.

 Image: Norval Morrisseau, "The Gathering", detail, silkscreen. Gift of Pollock Gallery, Toronto.