Artistic Expressions

Contemporary Aboriginal Artistic Expressions

The mise en scene of our images and stories is at risk of being flattened into so many postcards. Like an elaborate mise en scene, layering foreground and background, light and shadow, lace curtains and branches of trees, our representations of our worlds should be thick with meaning. It has become too easy for the powers-that-be to take the postcard, or even the scribble, and proclaim it “Native, aboriginal, First Nations etc.” and say they have fulfilled their cultural quota or broadcaster CRTC requirements or whatever. And we’ve been too quick to deliver the postcard.

That intelligence is our legacy- and our right

That imagination is our right- and our legacy

There is a discipline and talent to our image making- even if we all want to tell stories.

We can all tell stories- even if we don’t all have the talent or the discipline to create art.

– Loretta Todd, Beyond1

Visual art is one of many ways in which Aboriginal histories, cultures and politics may be critically explored and ultimately expressed. Through the use of performance, photography and video, artists have chosen new lenses to present themes found throughout Indigenous Foundations such as the Indian Act, Aboriginal women, identity and representation, and language. Through these media, these themes are articulated, investigated and documented here by six contemporary Aboriginal artists.

This section is by no means an all-inclusive representation of contemporary artists exploring aboriginality. Rather, this group of artists and their respective artworks, layered with multiple meanings, perspectives and experiences, are meant to provide a foundation for further inquiry into the dynamic and expansive terrain of an ongoing Aboriginal art history.

Artists included are: Terrance Houle (Blood Tribe), Nicholas Galanin (Sitka, Alaska), Jaime Black (Metis), Jordan Bennett (Mi’kmaq), Nadia Myre (Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg), and Kevin Lee Burton (Swampy Cree).

What you will find in this section

Artist profiles

  • Artwork
  • Biography: providing background information on the artist.
  • Artist Statement: providing background on the artwork itself and the artist’s overall practice
  • A series of questions answered by the artist to provide context on what has informed their work.



1 In Bill Reid and Beyond: Expanding on Modern Native Art, edited by Kern Duffek and Charlotte Townsend-Gault, 2004. p. 285