Art, representation and why it matters

This week on Unreserved, we talk to Kent Monkman, Jay Odjick and Ryan Singer about Indigenous representation in visual art.
Joshua Wedzin, 9, paints alongside his artist father in his Behchoko, N.W.T., studio. (Curtis Mandeville/CBC)

When Jay Odjick didn't see Indigenous peoples in the books and comics he loved as a child, he did the only thing he could, he grew up to become an illustrator and created his own. Now, the Anishinaabe creator of cartoon super hero Kagigi has brought Indigenous faces to author Robert Munsch's latest children's book, Blackflies. 

(Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)
When artist and curator Kent Monkman was asked to create an exhibit in response to Canada's 150th celebrations, he jumped at the chance. Shame and Prejudice: A Story of Resilience runs through March 4 at the University of Toronto Art Centre and narrates a story of Canada through the eyes of Monkman — who is Cree — and his alter ego, Miss Chief Eagle Testickle.

​Joshua Wedzin is just nine-years-old but his paintings don't reflect his age. He mostly likes to paint the northern lights in the night sky. The white and yellow paint seems to dance and weave across the canvas much like the Aurora borealis itself. This young boy from Bechoko, North West Territories learned to paint from his dad, James Wedzin, himself a well-known Tlicho artist.

By day she is a red seal millwright but at night she trades in her work boots for cowboy boots. Jade Turner is a country music artist who is releasing her second album, North Country, and Unreserved has the exclusive premiere of her second single, Worth. The song was inspired by the young people of Pimicikamak in Manitoba. The northern First Nation made headlines after a suicide crisis last year. 

A Navajo artist brings Star Wars to his U.S. reservation through his paintings. Meet Ryan Singer, Jedi artist, who creates vibrant paintings that blend the landscapes and characters of Tuba City, Arizona, where he grew up and Luke Sykwalker's home planet of Tatooine.

This Week's Playlist 

Singer/songwriter Jade Turner set to release her second album (Provided)

Buffy Sainte-Marie - Starwalker
Herbie Barnes - Saturday Night
Digawolf  - Northern Lights
Jade Turner - Worth