U of W kicks off 9-day ArtsFest with indigenous exhibits

The University of Winnipeg kicks off nine-day ArtsFest on Sept. 27 . Among the offerings is an exhibition of Contemporary Indigenous Art at Convocation Hall.

Rare indigenous art displayed at inaugural University of Winnipeg ArtsFest

Jackson Beardy, Sturgeon Clan, 1979, silkscreen (a/p), 21 ½” x 28”. Collection of The University of Winnipeg. Photo: Larry Glawson.

It's a rare opportunity to see some stunning art treasures. The University of Winnipeg opens its doors to the public for an inaugural nine-day ArtsFest, Sept. 27 - Oct. 5.  And among the offerings is an exhibition of Contemporary Indigenous Art at Convocation Hall.

"I'm really thrilled that we can share these pieces with the public," says curator Jennifer Gibson.

The collection consists of 15 paintings and prints, including two silkscreens by Ojibway artist Daphe Odjig.  "Odjig is known as the grandmother of contemporary Indigenous art," explains Gibson. "She's nationally and internationally recognized." 

"These are two really famous images by her," says Gibson.  

Daphne Odjig, Nanabajou his daughter, 1975, silkscreen (4/60), 46 ½” x 30 ½”. Collection of The University of Winnipeg. Gift of Frank and Sue Hechter. Photo: (Larry Glawson)

In the early 70s, Odjig illustrated a book called Tales from the Smokehouse, which became wildly popular. She decided to create a limited series of silkscreens from those images.

Odjiig  also co-founded the Professional Native Indian Artists Inc., back in the '70's, which people refer to as the "Indian Group of Seven." The other founders were Jackson Beardy, Eddy Cobiness, Alex Janvier, NorvalMorrisseau, Carl Ray and Joseph Sanchez.

"That happened here in Winnipeg in the early 70s, so it's very critical and those are amazing pieces," says Gibson.

The collection also features two silkscreens by Jackson Beardy, including Sturgeon Clan. "That is his clan so I see that as as pretty significant image."​

The UWinnipegArtsFest is incredibly wide-ranging and coincides with Culture Days this weekend.

It kicks off Sept. 27 with a gala co-hosted by singer Len Cariou and artist Wanda Koop. In addition to the exhibit of Indigenous art is another art show called Boys Club, featuring works that are representations of masculinity. There will also be films and theatre, music at 12:30 every day hosted by the Virtuosi Concert Series and the UWSA's Freestyle Festival celebrating everything from basketball to hip hop culture. Diversity Foods will also offer back-door lunches all next week. 

"We really want to get people out here and enjoy art and culture on our campus," concludes Gibson.

The Contemporary Indigenous Art show is open at Convocation Hall through the weekend 12-4 and from Oct. 1 - 5 from 10-4.


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