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At the Front of the Line
Ash Poitras Jane b. 1951 - Cree; Canadian
painting (image-making); collages (visual works);
Mixed media artist Jane Ash Poitras was born in Fort Chipewyan, Alberta in 1951. Poitras’ biological mother died when she was six years old and she was raised by her adoptive mother in a German Roman Catholic household in Edmonton. She earned first a degree in microbiology, followed by a second degree in printmaking, from the University of Alberta. She then earned a Master of Fine Arts (painting and sculpture focus) from Columbia University in New York. Poitras is a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of the Arts, and an in-demand lecturer at Universities world-wide. Poitras is the recipient of numerous awards including the Alberta Centennial Medal, the University of Alberta Alumni Award of Excellence, and the 2006 national Aboriginal Achievement Award for Arts and Culture. Poitras’ work frequently makes use of references to First Nations and European art history and combines layers of photography, painted images, and text to create complex works that address issues of personal and collective identities, histories, and stories. In early adulthood Poitras sought out her Cree/Dene heritage. According to a 2010 press release from the Royal Ontario Museum (http://www.rom.on.ca/en/about-us/newsroom/press-releases/jane-ash-poitra... Accessed January 13, 2017) Poitras “meets regularly with Elders from many Native communities to hear their stories and to learn from them. She travels often, allowing her to observe and partake in the rituals of various Native cultures. By doing so, she brings a very humanist approach to her work. She isn’t just trying to give information – rather her work is about sharing knowledge. Her visual presentation of First Nations has had a tremendous impact on Canadian art.” ARTIST INFO: Canada House Gallery: http://www.canadahouse.com/Artists/Jane_Ash_Poitras.asp (Accessed February 26, 2017)
DESCRIPTION: Mixed media painting containing a blue and white photo-silkscreen of Chief PīTIKWAHANAPIWīYIN (Poundmaker) in the upper-mid quadrant. The words “POUNDMAKER” (in black) and “REAL” (in white) are present above of Chief PīTIKWAHANAPIWīYIN’s photo. A thick blue line containing eight red and white circles is located above this text. Below the images, an abstract figure made up of lines and a shell-like circle with an “X” through it, is reaching upward with its left hand. The figure’s right hand is reaching downwards toward the hand of a smaller similar looking figure (perhaps a child of the larger figure). These figures are standing in front of written text referring to Elijah Harper. On the left side of the photo-silkscreen of Chief PīTIKWAHANAPIWīYIN there are symbols drawn in white paint over a dark green rectangle. On the right side of the photo-silkscreen of Chief PīTIKWAHANAPIWīYIN a portrait which appears to be an amalgamation of stereotyped imagery of First Nations Chiefs has the words “WANT | STEREOTYPE | YES NO?” written in blue over top.
Art, Canadian--20th centuryCree artWomen artistsArt, Modern--20th centuryWomen artists--CanadaMeech Lake Accord (1987)Canada--Politics and government--1945-Canada--Politics and governmentIndigenous peoples--Government relationsIndigenous artGovernment, Resistance toArt--Political aspectsIndians--Kings and rulersIdentityIdentity politicsGroup identity in art