Jackson Beardy, Fisher with a Broken Tail, 1972. 972.347.1
TORONTO, May 24, 2017 — The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) presents Anishinaabeg: Art & Power, a celebration of the beauty, power, and passion of Indigenous art. On display in the Museum’s Third Floor Centre Block from Saturday, June 17 to Sunday, November 19, 2017, the exhibition explores the history, traditions, and legends of the Anishinaabeg through several hundred years of their art.
The Anishinaabeg are one of North America’s most populous and diverse Indigenous communities, and their art was deeply influenced by their interactions with different communities over time. The exhibition builds on a universal theme of art moving with people, changing in interesting directions as communities intersect.
Josh Basseches, the ROM’s Director and CEO, says: “We are proud to showcase and honour the beauty and enduring power of Anishinaabeg art and culture. With this exhibition, visitors have the opportunity to explore the shared connections between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians and, in the process, gain a deeper understanding of the impact Anishinaabeg art and beliefs have had in shaping our national mosaic.”
The exhibition was developed by three curators. Arni Brownstone, the ROM’s specialist on cultures of the North American Great Plains, collaborated with Saul Williams, a painter and Woodlands School of art member from North Caribou Lake First Nation in northern Ontario, and historian Alan Corbiere from M’Chigeeng First Nation on Manitoulin Island. The curators’ aim with this exhibition is to open pathways between museum-goers and the Indigenous community.
Eleanor McMahon, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, continues, “Anishinaabeg: Art & Power celebrates the important contributions of Indigenous peoples in Ontario and Canada, especially in influencing the fabric of our province’s arts and culture. As we work toward reconciliation, exhibitions like this one help to educate people about the rich traditions and history of Canada’s first peoples. I am pleased that our government is supporting the first prominent exhibit of Anishinaabeg art in Ontario, which will give us all a more profound understanding and respect for the life, traditions and sacred stories of the Anishnaabeg.”
Anishinaabeg: Art & Power primarily focuses on Anishinaabeg beadwork and paintings of the Woodlands School. Dating from 1875 to 1925, the beadwork reflects the changes in the art of the Anishinaabeg, also known as the Ojibwa, as they encountered other Indigenous peoples in their westward movement to the plains and through an increasing settler population. The Woodland School, well-known through the work of Norval Morrisseau, blossomed in the early 1970s. This school of painting shared with the world Anishinaaabeg traditions and beliefs that had for many generations been silenced by church and state. The beaded regalia and paintings are contextualized by an array of early Anishinaabeg objects, while present day works of art offer current commentary on ancestral traditions and issues. The exhibition’s 140 two- and three-dimensional objects originate from Quebec to Saskatchewan and as far south as Minnesota.
Anishinaabeg: Art & Power is included in ROM General Admission and free guided tours for the general public are led by Indigenous docents paired with the ROM’s Department of Museum Volunteers.
The ROM’s Youth Cabinet, an integrated group of culturally diverse youth led by emerging Indigenous professionals, is collaborating with an Indigenous elder, storyteller, and writer to create stories inspired by the Museum’s permanent Indigenous collection. This online anthology appears on Wattpad, the global storytelling platform, in late June 2017.
Inspired programming complements the exhibition. ROM Speaks, the Museum’s signature lecture series, offers fascinating and thought-provoking presentations, including award-winning Canadian First Nations artist Kent Monkman and playwright/author/journalist Drew Hayden Taylor. Indigenous Now, the June 16th edition of Toronto’s most popular destination Friday Night Live (FNL), presented by Ford Motor Company of Canada, Ltd., features live performances, food vendors, and gallery activations.
The exhibition is incorporated into curriculum-linked programs for elementary, secondary, post-secondary school groups, and adult English language learners. For the family, Gallery Trail activity guides are available for download on the ROM Learning Portal or can be picked up on-site. To enhance the exhibition experience, visitors are encouraged to stop in to the Daphne Cockwell Gallery of Canada: First Peoples on Level 1.