North Shore Historic Art

Daphne Odjig RCA (1919-Present)

Daphne Odjig is one of Canada’s most celebrated Aboriginal painters and printmakers. Born on Manitoulin Island’s Wikwemikong reserve of Odawa, Potawatomi and English heritage, she first learned about art-making from her grandfather, Jonas Odjig, a tombstone carver who taught her to draw and paint. She later moved to British Columbia. Odjig’s style, which underwent several developments and adaptations from decade to decade, manages to always remain identifiable. Mixing traditional Aboriginal styles and imagery with Cubist and Surrealist influences, Odjig’s work is defined by curving contours, strong outlining, overlapping shapes and an unsurpassed sense of colour. Her work has addressed issues of colonization, the displacement of Aboriginal peoples, and the status of Aboriginal women and children, bringing Aboriginal political issues to the forefront of contemporary art practices and theory. The jury described Daphne Odjig’s work as “groundbreaking”, noting her unique voice and her role as a “real champion” of Aboriginal artists. Odjig moved to Toronto for a formal art education. She went on to continue her art education in Sweden. She fused together elements of aboriginal pictographs and First Nations arts with European techniques and styles of the 20th century. Her breakthrough into the art work happened in the 1960s when she received critical acclaim for her pen and ink drawings of Cree people from northern Manitoba. She explored erotic themes in some of her paintings which is rare in First Nations art work. In 1974, Odjig illustrated Tales from the Smokehouse, a collection of traditional First Nations erotica written by Herbert T. Schwarz. That same year, she opened the first Canadian gallery exclusively representing First Nations art in Winnipeg. In 1973, Odjig became a founding member of the Professional Native Indian Artists Association, along with Alex Janvier and Norval Morrisseau. She is a member of the Royal Canadian Academy.


 Mother and Children • 

 Untitled Ceramic Pot


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