'Groundbreaking' indigenous art back in Alberta

A collection of the work of some of Alberta's leading indigenous artists is back on display in Edmonton after an absence of more than 10 years.

Artists' works changed the way aboriginal art is understood

A painting by Alex Janvier depicts girls at a residential school all wearing similar glasses. (Gareth Hampshire/CBC News)
A collection of work by some of Alberta's leading indigenous artists is back on display in Edmonton after an absence of more than 10 years.
A work by George Littlechild hangs at the Enterprise Gallery. (Gareth Hampshire)

"The work of Alberta indigenous artists has been groundbreaking for a very long time and it hasn't been seen a lot in the Edmonton area," said Dawn Marie Marchand, advisor to the Enterprise Galleries exhibit.

The paintings by names such as Alex Janvier and Jane Ash Poitras were part of a collection sold to the federal department of aboriginal affairs by the Alberta Indian Arts and Crafts Society when its funding dried up in the early 90's.

A partnership by the department and the University of Alberta brought the work back to Edmonton.

"It's really amazing artwork that's happening in Alberta and it's been happening for a long time, so it's my chance to work with my heroes," Marchand said.

The works helped change the view of indigenous art in the 1980s, she said. 

"Until then people looked at this type of art form as crafts."

The work is on display at the downtown gallery until May 24th.

With files from CBC's Gareth Hampshire