Canadian/Saulteaux (born in Canada), b. 1947
Sandy Bay, 1998–1999
oil, black and white photograph, colour photograph on canvas, masonite
300 x 548.4 cm
Collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery; Acquired with funds from the President's Appeal 2000 and with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts Acquisition Assistance program/Oeuvre achetée avec l'aide du programme d'aide aux acquisitions du Conseil des Arts du Canada
Saulteaux First Nations artist Robert Houle believes that the physical and spiritual elements of landscape are essential to understanding one’s life. This work addresses the abuse he suffered as a child, far from home at a residential school. Houle explores memory as a means of healing, beginning with narrative elements of school photographs. From there he shifts to three large panels: white, blue, and red, the flag colours of the European colonizers. Each painting moves from a representation of the artist’s personal memories to abstracted forms. The entire work demonstrates the healing power over the body and spirit, as embodied in the red panel, and of the landscape of Houle’s home on the Sandy Bay First Nation on the shores of Lake Manitoba, symbolically represented by the blue panel.