7: Professional Native Indian Artists Inc.

May 10, 2014 to September 1, 2014

Alex Janvier, The Four Seasons of '76, 1977, acrylic on masonite, 91.4 x 81.3 cm, Courtesy of Janvier Gallery

In 1971, Daphne Odjig and her husband Chester Beavon opened a small craft store, Odjig Indian Prints of Canada Ltd., located at 331 Donald Street in Winnipeg. As a gathering place, the store brought together artists who had previously worked in isolation from each other as well as the Indian art scenes in Ottawa and Toronto.“Odjig’s,” as it was commonly referred to, offered a friendly place for artists to receive support and to discuss their challenges and aspirations.

In 1972, a group of artists formed and began to call themselves the “Group of Seven.” They usually met in Jackson Beardy’s studio, at the North Star Inn, or at Odjig’s where they shared their frustrations with the Canadian art establishment, grappled with prejudice, discussed aesthetics, and critiqued one another’s art. In November 1973, a series of informal meetings led to a proposal to form the Professional Native Indian Artists Incorporated. On February 13, 1974 the PNIAI was legally incorporated. Soon afterwards Odjig expanded her Winnipeg shop, establishing the New Warehouse Gallery.

This “Group of Seven” was a ground-breaking cultural and political entity that self-organized to demand recognition as professional, contemporary artists. They challenged old constructs, and stimulated a new way of thinking about contemporary First Nations people, their lives, and art. 7: Professional Native Indian Artists Inc. draws on both private and public art collections to bring together 85 works including recently uncovered masterworks of the period that have not been accessible to the public for many years. The exhibition focuses exclusively on that crucial decade during which the seven artists were active as a group; exemplifying the range and diversity of work being produced by the PNIAI in the 1970s. The exhibition considers their collective artistic impact, as well as, the distinctive styles and experimentation of the individual artists.

7: Professional Native Indian Artists Inc. was curated by Michelle LaVallee, MacKenzie Art Gallery Associate Curator.

7: Professional Native Indian Artists Inc. is organized by the MacKenzie Art Gallery. This project has been made possible through a contribution from the Museums Assistance Program, Department of Canadian Heritage. The MacKenzie receives ongoing support from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Saskatchewan Arts Board, SaskCulture, the City of Regina, and the University of Regina.

7: Professional Native Indian Artists Inc. est organisée par la MacKenzie Art Gallery. Ce projet a été rendu possible grâce à une contribution du Programme d’aide aux musées du ministère du Patrimoine canadien. La MacKenzie Art Gallery reçoit l’appui continu du Conseil des arts du Canada, du Saskatchewan Arts Board, de SaskCulture, de la Ville de Regina et de l’Université de Regina.
 

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Daphne Odjig, So Great Was Their Love, 1975, acrylic on canvas, 101.6 x 81.3 cm, Private Collection

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