7: Professional Native Indian Artists Inc.May 9 to September 7, 2015
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.
The seven artists of the PNIAI came together in order to collectively fight for the inclusion of their work within the Canadian mainstream and the contemporary art canon. Situated within a contentious political context, including the Liberal government’s controversial Indian policy of 1969, the PNIAI were resistant to colonial discourses and broke with identity definitions and boundaries imposed on First Nations. Disenchanted with the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development’s marketing and promotion strategies, they fought against exclusionary practices which treated their work as a type of handicraft, a categorization which prevented it from being shown in mainstream galleries and museums. These artists were among the first to fight to establish a long-overdue forum for the voices and perspectives of Indigenous artists. In many ways, the forward thinking of these pivotal artists led to the development and acceptance of an Indigenous art discourse and the recognition of Indigenous artists as a vital part of Canada’s past, present and future identity. By fearlessly portraying the reality of Canada from a First Nations perspective, they expanded the vocabulary of contemporary visual art practice and set a new standard for the artists who followed in their wake. Reaching across cultural boundaries, their lasting artistic merit continues to be a source of inspiration for generations to come.