A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 33: The Indian Group of Seven

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“Lubicon” by Alex Janvier, 1987

I am just over a month into this personal experiment for 2017: A daily blog post having to do with creativity, either of my own or from other artists who inspire and challenge me. Already I have found that it is a rewarding exercise, not only because I get to revisit so many great creators that I enjoy but also because I am discovering new ones along the way. So it is with the Indian Group of Seven.

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Following up on my post from yesterday about Alex Janvier and the incredible show of his work at the National Gallery of Canada, I thought it appropriate to introduce you to his fellow Native artists who comprised the Seven (plus one honorary member). Formed in the early 1970’s as the Professional Native Indian Artists Incorporation, they were given the name “The Indian Group of Seven” in the Winnipeg Free Press, an allusion to the famous Group of Seven (Canadian landscape painters of the 1920’s). The group was made up of Alex Janvier, Daphne Odjig, Jackson Beardy, Eddy Cobiness, Norval Morrisseau, Carl Ray and Joseph Sanchez. Haida artist Bill Reid was included as an honorary member, bringing the actual number to eight. The group worked to shift the thinking around aboriginal art, which was not taken seriously in its own right. They set out to visit Native communities to teach and promote the arts and they set up a Trust Fund for emerging Native artists. They were a remarkable group with high ideals. Today, just two of their number are still with us (Janvier and Sanchez).

At the Janvier show at the National Gallery, there is a small anteroom where you can see examples of the art from each of the artists in the Group. It was a joy for me to “discover” these remarkable artists. I decided to give you a brief gallery of their work below in hopes you will find that joy as well.

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“Artist and Shaman Between Two Worlds” 1980 Norval Morrisseau (1931 – 2007) was known as the “Picasso of the North”

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“Family Portrait” 1974 Joseph Sanchez (1948- ) is the lone American of the Group

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“Black Wings” Jackson Beardy (1944-1984) was a founding member of the Indian Group of Seven

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“Haida Raven” Bill Reid (1920-1998) was not an original member of the Seven but included because of his tremendous influence. His artwork has been featured on the Canadian $20 bill.

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“Buffalo Dancer” Eddy Cobiness (1933-1996) Queen Elizabeth II has artwork by Cobiness in her personal collection

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“Beaverman” 1977 Carl Ray (1943-1978) was an apprentice of Morrisseau and was also known as Tall Straight Poplar due to his height (6’4″)

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“Untitled” (Mother and Child) Daphne Odjig (1919-2016) received the Order of Canada in 1986 and the Governor General’s Award in 2007

 

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