Alex Janvier, Suckerville, 1993. Acrylic on linen.
Art Gallery of Alberta collection.
Four leading scholars on Indigenous and Aboriginal art, Marcia Crosby, Richard William Hill, Lee-Ann Martin and Jolene Rickard, will gather at the Art Gallery of Alberta for a one-day symposium on art and aesthetics.
Diverse subject matter will be considered, such as the role of Aboriginal people in early broadcast media; the Aboriginal Group of Seven and their aesthetic innovations that challenged the hierarchies of ‘modernism’ in Canada; as well as Indigenous art production within a global context. The purpose of this event is to bring forward little-known Aboriginal art histories and examine particular art practices from new points of view and methodologies.
This symposium is led and moderated by Candice Hopkins.
|Opening Remarks: Candice Hopkins
Keynote Address: Jolene Rickard
Panel: Marcia Crosby, Richard William Hill and Lee-Ann Martin
Q&A Sessions with Speakers and Closing Remarks
Reception with special guest Alex Janvier
Making Aesthetics Indigenous?
by Jolene Rickard
Does the aesthetic practice of Indigenous peoples remain subjugate within the field of Art History or has the discipline shifted? Emergent framings in the connective space between the past and present are currently being recast as “comparative modernities or multiple modernisms.” The broader category of Indigenous has eclipsed nation-state categorizations like American Indian or First Nations in the field of Native and Indigenous Studies. Is this merely word play or is change happening? These questions and observations will be debated through art world exploits in academia, museum exhibitions and the spectacle of biennales.
In this panel, diverse subject matter will be considered, such as the role of Aboriginal people in early broadcast media; the Aboriginal Group of Seven and their aesthetic innovations that challenged the hierarchies of ‘modernism’ in Canada; as well as Indigenous art production within a global context. The purpose of this event is to bring forward little-known Aboriginal art histories and examine particular art practices from new points of view and methodologies.
Alex Janvier: “Canada’s First Indian Modernist”
by Lee-Ann Martin
Eschewing clichéd and stereotypical imagery while at art school in the mid-1950s, Alex Janvier has been at the vanguard of Aboriginal art for over fifty years. Lee-Ann Martin, author of ALEX JANVIER: His First Thirty Years (1960-1990), will discuss Janvier’s early approaches to modernism and abstraction as well as the artistic framework within which he worked in the 1960s. This presentation stems, in part, from Martin’s current research towards a new monograph to be published by the University of Calgary Press on Alex Janvier’s art and its relationship to land and to the environment.
Aboriginal Cultural Production in unlikely Urban Spaces
by Marcia Crosby
Drawing from her PhD dissertation, Aboriginal Cultural Production in Unlikely Urban Spaces, Marcia Crosby will examine the theoretical, textual and historical matrix of what is modern, modernism and modernity in local and global contexts. These ideas will be grounded in an exhibition she is currently co-curating, entitled Projections, which focuses on Alert Bay (Tlawitsis) artist, hereditary chief, ceremonialist and community leader Henry Speck, or Udzi’stalis (1908 – 1971), and his exhibit at the New Design Gallery in downtown Vancouver in 1964. Her current on-line exhibition, Aboriginal Art in the Sixties: Fine and Popular, and her essay, “Making Indian Art ‘Modern’,” are part of a larger on-line exhibition, Ruins In Process, which is a research archive and educational resource that brings together still and moving images, ephemera, essays and interviews to explore the diverse artistic practices of Vancouver art in the 1960s and early 1970s.
Thoughts on Indigenous Ontologies, the ‘New Materialism’ and Aesthetics
by Richard Hill
For this presentation, Hill works from the assumption that aesthetic criteria are primarily culturally situated, but that in our current globalized situation there are no cultures and thus no aesthetic criteria that are pure unto themselves, discrete or autonomous from trans-cultural influence. Given that (and other complications) he remains skeptical that there is a current “indigenous aesthetic” as such, but will argue that there are indigenous intellectual traditions and perspectives that influence the work of many contemporary artists of indigenous heritage. To this end, he has found it helpful to explore what is often referred to as the ‘new materialism,’ particularly those threads that attempt work beyond binaries of nature and culture and recognize the shared agency between human beings, non-human beings and things in the world.