Celebrating the Past – Planning for the Future
I would like to add my best wishes and appreciation to those of hundreds of artists who have participated in the annual Indian Art/First Nations Art exhibitions throughout the past thirty five years. For many of us, it was our first opportunity to exhibit in a formal gallery setting.
The Woodland Museum provides the perfect location and the thirty five years of Indian Art/First Nations Art the perfect opportunity for young artists from Six Nations to view works of First Nations artists like: Arthur Shilling, Carl Beam, Clifford Maracle, Arnold Jacobs, Norval Morrisseau, Vince Bomberry, Shelley Niro, Robert Houle, Stan Hill, Gerald McMaster, Maxine Noel, Greg Staats and Rick Hill – to mention a few.
The significance of the annual Indian Art/First Nations Art exhibitions may not be readily apparent to visitors but for artists of native ancestry, it is an opportunity to introduce and share the most recent developments in their work. For curators, collectors and “Indian Art” aficionados it provides an occasion to renew old acquaintances, make initial introductions and develop working relationships that lead to career opportunities for participating artists – both established and proving.
Throughout its history Indian Art/First Nations Art has been a forum for artistic perspective. Visual commentary on timely issues and concerns have ranged anywhere and everywhere from residential schools, the environment and treaty rights to land claims, the senselessness of war and globalization. Traditional art forms, cultural examination or personal introspection have provided a tremendous landscape for artists explore media, technique and presentation. We’ve been so fortunate to view their diversity and vitality.
Credit for the long and successful history of Indian Art/First Nations Art must go to the dedicated Woodland Museum staff. I’ll leave it to Judy Harris and Tom Hill to list all who played a role in mounting the annual exhibitions. I wish to acknowledge and thank Bill Powless, Dennis Garlow and the late Simone Thomas for the consideration and assistance they provided for the Indian Art/First Nations Art exhibitions and for my first solo exhibition Transformation – The Art of David General in 1983.
As we look back, remembering and honouring the past 35 years – let’s take a moment to consider the next 35 years. We need to continue our work on a future that holds hope, excitement and promise for the next generations of young artists of native ancestry. Building a new facility to house collection/exhibition functions as well as production and administration for all the arts has been an ongoing discussion for many years. I would encourage proponents of this dream to “rez-urrect” the concept.
As we gather to view First Nations Art 2010 and celebrate the 35 years milestone, I know we will take time to remember the lives and works of hundreds of our colleagues who have past during this time. Their remembrance and legacy will forever be the body of work they left for use to ponder, enjoy and be inspired by.
David M. General