By Lucie Roy
Morinville– Art and art history are coming together at Notre Dame Elementary School. A visiting exhibit featuring works from a member of the famous Indian Group of Seven is on display at the school’s library until Mar. 22.
Librarian Lena Bourgeois said the travelling exhibit, titled Our Wilderness is Wisdom, is on loan from The Alberta Foundation for the Arts. The exhibit features the work of First Nations artists Tanya Harnett, Curtis Johnson and Alex Janvier, the latter a member of the Indian Group of Seven, the better-known name of The Professional Native Indian Artists Incorporation.
On display at Notre Dame are six works by Tanya Harnett, six works by Alex Janvier, and six works by Curtis Johnson. The artwork from the three First Nations artists falls under the category of environmental art. Harnett and Janvier’s work depicts ecological issues; Johnson’s work depicts the social and historic interaction with humans and the environment.
Janvier’s paintings indicate movement and his own expressions. His work embodies history and culture and reflections on First Nation values. His colours bring out emotions: red for anger or rage, dark shades of blue or purple for devastation, green for fertility, yellow signifying the spiritual, and white the color of purity. His work was influenced by the woodland style but he later moved to more abstract forms.
During the exhibit students will learn about the artists, the art genres, styles and processes used, including giclee prints, expressionism and abstraction. They will also learn about photography and art with opportunities for hands-on learning. The students will be introduced to designs in line, shape, colour texture and space, and will learn how to interpret artwork in reflection, depiction, composition and expression.
The inclusion of work from Janvier brings a little art history to the school.
The first exhibit in Canada to address First Nations art was held in the Winnipeg Art Gallery in 1973 and showed native artists had a unique contribution to the art world. This exhibit was the foundation for the Professional Native Indian Artists Association, informally known as The Indian Group of Seven, a cultural play on the famous Group of Seven or Algonquin School, a group of Canadian landscape artists working in the 1920s and 1930s.