Museum of Contemporary Native Arts

The Drawings and Paintings of Daphne Odjig: A Retrospective

June 26 - September 20, 2009

Organized by the Art Gallery of Sudbury and the National Gallery of Canada

The Drawings and Paintings of Daphne Odjig: A Retrospective Exhibition features over forty years of Daphne Odjig’s (Potawatomi/Odawa/Ojibwe) artistic career. Organized by the Art Gallery of Sudbury and the National Gallery of Canada, in collaboration with guest curator, Bonnie Devine (Ojibway), the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts will be the only venue in the United States to host the exhibit. Featuring Odjig’s history and legend paintings, erotica, abstractions and landscapes, together these pieces communicate the breadth of Odjig’s engagement with her personal, political and cultural history. The exhibit will open with a special preview for Museum members June 26, 2009 from 3 – 5 p.m., followed by a “soft” public opening that same evening from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. The official opening reception for the public occurs August 20, 2009 from 4 – 7 p.m. during Indian Market week. The exhibit remains up until September 20, 2009.

Born in 1919 in Wikwemikong, on Manitoulin Island in Canada, Daphne Odjig was instrumental in bringing the pictorial style now known as the Woodland School to public prominence. A member of the Order of Canada, Odjig has achieved international recognition as an artist. She holds Honorary Doctorate degrees from the University of Toronto and Laurentian University and has received an Aboriginal Achievement Award in Canada.

In this retrospective, examples of Odjig’s contribution to the early Woodland School are contrasted with the lyricism of her color work in the 80s and the heavier political content of her large history paintings. The years in which these works were created represent a complex turning point in the cultural and political history of the First Nations in Canada, in many ways paralleling the Native American experience in the U.S. during that same time.

Joseph Sanchez, deputy director of the Museum, has known Odjig for years, and brings a unique perspective to the exhibit. He says, “It is with great honor that I am able to bring the work of Daphne Odjig to Santa Fe. This show brings our relationship of 39 years full circle, as she was the first person to collect and exhibit my own work in her gallery. The retrospective even includes pieces that were created while I worked with Daphne in her studio during some really cold Manitoba winters.” Sanchez notes he is equally as pleased that the public opening for the retrospective occurs the week of Indian Market, noting Odjig has been a great activist for Native arts: “It is without exaggeration that I say no artist has given so much to furthering First Nations and Native American contemporary art as Odjig. She was the energy behind the creation of Professional Native Artists, Inc. (Native Group of Seven), the first collective to promote and exhibit First Nations art in mainstream institutions.”