Deanna Bowen, God of Gods: A Canadian Play (detail), dates variable. Installation, video. Installation view of Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts 2020, Art Gallery of Alberta, Edmonton, 2020. Courtesy the Artist. Photo: Art Gallery of Alberta.
A descendant of the Alabama and Kentucky born Black Prairie pioneers of Amber Valley and Campsie, Alberta, Deanna Bowen’s family history has been the central pivot of her artistic practice since the 1990s. Often grounded in comprehensive archival research, Bowen’s work compels its viewers to reflect on how Canada’s past has shaped the social inequities of the present day.
Her interdisciplinary project ‘God of Gods: A Canadian Play’ traces the foundations of Canadian cultural identity as shaped by nationalist, White and settler ideals within the social networks of the political, economic and cultural elite of the early 20th century. Centred on the 1919 play ‘God of Gods,’ which included primitivist and stereotypical representations of Indigenous peoples, Bowen’s work looks at how the larger colonial project was legitimized by the country’s leading artists and cultural organizations, including the Group of Seven and their powerful patrons.
Click here to watch a virtual tour featuring Deanna’s work in Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts 2020, presented by EPCOR with the support of Canada Council for the Arts.