AGA Opens Exhibition of Ground-Breaking First Nations Artists

AGA Opens Exhibition of Ground-Breaking First Nations Artists

 7: Professional Native Indian Artists Inc. features the work of Jackson Beardy, Eddy Cobiness, Alex Janvier, Norval Morrisseau, Daphne Odjig, Carl Ray and Joseph Sanchez

Edmonton, AB – The Art Gallery of Alberta opens 7: Professional Native Indian Artists Inc. March 5, offering the opportunity for gallery-goers to see work by one of Canada’s most important early artist alliances. This influential group and ground-breaking cultural and political entity demanded recognition as professional, contemporary artists and stimulated a new way of thinking about contemporary First Nations people, their lives and art.

Wryly known as the “Indian Group of Seven”, members of the group included Jackson Beardy (1944-1984), Eddy Cobiness (1933-1996), Alex Janvier (b.1935), Norval Morrisseau (1932-2007), Daphne Odjig (b. 1919), Carl Ray (1942-1978) and Joseph Sanchez (b. 1948). Because of their intervention in the history of Canadian art (which had chronically excluded Indigenous artists and artworks), and by referencing a cornerstone of the 20th century Canadian art narrative (the landscape painters known as the Group of Seven), these seven artists represented the fundamental importance of engaging in conversation about Indigenous art, as well as the critical role First Nations artists play in Canadian culture, past, present and future.

The exhibition 7: Professional Native Indian Artists Inc. draws on both private and public art collections to bring together over 80 paintings and drawings from the 1970s, the crucial decade during which the seven artists were active as a group. The exhibition considers their collective artistic impact, as well as the distinctive styles and experimentation of the individual artists. The exhibition has been shown in Regina (at the organizing institution, the MacKenzie Art Gallery), Winnipeg (Winnipeg Art Gallery), Kelowna (Kelowna Art Gallery), McMichael Canadian Art Collection (Kleinburg, Ontario) and the Art Gallery of Windsor (Windsor, ON). The Art Gallery of Alberta exhibition is the last chance to see these works presented together in Canada. The exhibition is open until July 3, 2016.

The following programming is presented in conjunction with the exhibition:

Dancing for my Father, Singing for my Son

performance by Jackson Beardy III and Byron Beardy

Saturday, March 5, 2:45 pm

Manning Hall

A performance of traditional hoop dancing by Jackson Beardy III, accompanied with singing and drumming by his father, Byron Beardy (the grandson and son of artist Jackson Q.P. Beardy whose work is featured in 7: Professional Native Indian Artists Inc.). The performance explores Jackson’s traditional journey to becoming a hoop dancer, the history of the hoop dance, traditional teachings, the Beardy’s special father-son relationship and their traditional journey as they travel throughout Turtle Island. All presentations and performances are accompanied by Byron singing with a hand drum.

Jackson Beardy III Bio

Jackson Beardy III is 21 years old and is of Oji-Cree ancestry from Wasagamack First Nation in the Island Lake region of North Central Manitoba. His traditional name is “Muh-ka-deoo Mu-ing-gun Napesis” (which translates as “Black Wolf Boy”), and he comes from the Sturgeon Clan. Traditional teachings tell us that his clan is responsible for teaching and healing. Jackson is the grandson of the late artist Jackson Q. P. Beardy, whose work is featured in 7: Professional Native Indian Artists Inc.

Jackson III saw his first hoop dance performance at the age of four, and received his first set of five hoops at the tender age of six. He can now dance with as many as 30 hoops. Since his debut performance in 2003 at the age of nine, Jackson has performed at local, regional, national and international schools, gatherings, conferences and celebrations. He has also shared the stage with other prominent aboriginal singers, dancers, artists and performers throughout the Turtle Island.

“I was impressed by the maturity of Jackson and the soft spoken presentation of both father and son”. – Participant, Dreamcatcher 2006 Youth Conference, Edmonton, AB.

Jackson is co-developer of the interactive workshop – H.O.O.P.S. This acronym is used alongside the Cree teachings and the use of the hoops in his dance routines.

H – Honour yourself, family and others
O – Observe
O – Offer thanks
P – Practice
S – Stay in tune with ones-self

“Excellent knowledge of the essence of the Dance”. – Participant, Dreamcatcher 2006, Youth Conference, Edmonton, AB.

In February of 2004 and 2005, Jackson competed at the World Championship Hoop Dance Contest in Phoenix, where he finished in the top 10 in his respective Jr. Division. In August 2007, he was named one of the 2007 Manitoba In-Motion Champions from the offices of the Minister of Healthy Living, Hon. Kerri Irvin-Ross and the Minister of Culture, Heritage, Tourism and Sports, Hon. Eric Robinson. This award recognizes Jackson’s efforts in promoting healthy, active living and aboriginal culture. He also started a noon-hour mentoring program where he mentors, instructs and teaches hoop dance etiquette and meaning via traditional Cree teachings to 10 young students at Shaughnessy Park School in the north end of Winnipeg. In the 2008/09 school year, his group doubled and he continues to guide these students. In 2009, he was awarded Trail Blazer of the North from MKO and the city of Thompson. Jackson received a recognition and appreciation award from Perimeter Aviation during Perimeter Air’s 50th Anniversary Gala (August 2010) for his continued work with youth throughout Manitoba, Canada and North America.

In October of 2013, Jackson III was invited to perform at the Commemoration of the 250th Anniversary of the Royal Proclamation at the grounds of Buckingham Palace and Canada House in London, England with an entourage of Chiefs, WWII Veterans and Elders from Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Jackson III continues to perform and do interactive hoop dance workshops. Not only is he an accomplished hoop dancer but he is also an avid guitar player and writes and records his own music. Most recently, Jackson Beardy III met and did a private performance prior to the concert for none other than Mr. Carlos Santana during the Winnipeg stop of his Stewart (Rod) & Santana (Carlos) concert tour August 8, 2014.

Curator and Artist Lecture: 7: Professional Native Indian Artists Inc.

Saturday, March 5, 1 pm

Ledcor Theatre


Register online at Seating is limited.

Exhibition Curator Michelle LaVallee and artists Alex Janvier and Joseph Sanchez will be in Edmonton to discuss their experience in the creation of 7: Professional Native Indian Artists Inc.

Carmen Robertson lecture and The Colours of Pride, 1973 screening

Wednesday, March 30, 7 pm

Ledcor Theatre


Beginning with a contextualization from University of Regina Associate Professor and Norval Morrisseau expert Carmen Robertson, the NFB film The Colours of Pride, 1973 is an introduction to the work of Norval Morrisseau, Allen Sapp, Alex Janvier, and Daphne Odjig, shown in conjunction with the exhibition 7: Professional Native Indian Artists Inc.

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. Presented at your AGA by Syncrude.

Govt Canada logo McKenzie Art Gallery logo Syncrude logo





The Art Gallery of Alberta is a centre of excellence for the visual arts in Western Canada, connecting people, art and ideas. The AGA is focused on the development and presentation of original exhibitions of contemporary and historical art from Alberta, Canada and around the world. The AGA also offers a full-range of art education and public programs. Founded in 1924, the Art Gallery of Alberta maintains a collection of more than 6,000 objects and is the oldest cultural institution in Alberta. It is the only museum in the province solely dedicated to the exhibition and preservation of art and visual culture. In May 2015, the AGA opened the Poole Centre of Design, an integrated series of exhibitions and programs to encourage research and public discussion about contemporary issues in architecture and design.


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