CBC Digital Archives

'Morning Star' shines at Museum of Civilization

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Native artist Alex Janvier has spent most of the last four months flat on his back. Like "a modern Michelangelo," he's been lying down to paint a huge mural on the domed ceiling of Ottawa's Museum of Civilization. Last week, that painting was finally revealed. The vibrant, colourful mural is called Morning Star, and Janvier considers it a "once-in-a-lifetime project." In this 1993 CBC-TV report, gallery-goers at the unveiling are blown away by the mural's beauty. "It's just about overwhelming," says one man.
• Alex Janvier was born in 1935 on Le Goff Reserve, Cold Lake First Nations in northern Alberta.
• He attended a residential school as a child.

• After finishing high school he attended the Alberta College of Art in Calgary, where he first experimented with modernist abstractions.

• Janvier has always been passionate about native rights and politics, incorporating related themes into a number of his artworks over the years. In the 1960s and '70s, he even signed many of his painting with his treaty number, 287, as a way of protesting the government's policies for aboriginal people.

• According to the Museum of Civilization website, each quadrant of 1993's Morning Star represents a different period in native history: "In the yellow quadrant, a balance of colour and shape reflects a time when the First Peoples were in harmony with nature, with the Great Spirit, and with each other... In the blue quadrant, a lack of decoration signifies the weakness of native culture, overwhelmed by European culture... The red quadrant depicts a time of revival and a new optimism... The last quadrant, white to link back to the white centre of Morning Star, portrays healing, renewed self-respect, reconciliation and restructuring -- a return to a state of harmony."

Medium: Television
Program: Midday
Broadcast Date: Aug. 14, 1993
Guest(s): Alex Janvier, Dean Janvier
Reporter: Ken Nyhuus
Duration: 4:50

Last updated: June 30, 2014

Page consulted on September 10, 2014

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