Canadian Museum of Civilization highlights Métis artist Bob Boyer’s cultural legacy

June 7, 2012


For immediate release

Gatineau, Quebec, June 7, 2012—The Canadian Museum of Civilization presents a major retrospective of world-renowned Métis artist, art historian, curator and educator Bob Boyer. Bob Boyer – His Life’s Work, which opens on June 7, honours the artist’s advocacy, his impact on education and his promotion of cultural knowledge about Canada’s First Peoples.

This is the first large-scale exhibition devoted to Boyer, who was a passionate champion for the recognition of First Peoples’ contributions to Canada’s cultural and social life. Featuring 58 powerful works of art produced between 1968 and 2004, the exhibition takes a fresh look at Boyer’s exploration of traditional motifs, which he used to reveal important aspects of contemporary Aboriginal life. 

“Because it highlights the vitality and significance of contemporary Aboriginal culture,
Bob Boyer – His Life’s Work is a perfect complement to the historical and ethnographical First Peoples collections for which the Museum of Civilization is so well known,” said Mark O’Neill, President and CEO of the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation. “Boyer’s contributions to Canada’s social and cultural history reach far beyond his impressive artistic accomplishments. His work as an educator and curator were instrumental in promoting knowledge and a deeper understanding of the First Peoples’ rich heritage and their importance to our national narrative.” 

Boyer was born in 1948 in Saskatchewan, and served as a faculty member of the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College (now the First Nations University of Canada) in Regina from 1978 until his death in 2004. He had a far-reaching influence on countless artists and students, and his exhibition history paralleled the history of contemporary Aboriginal art in Canada. 

While Boyer explored many artistic approaches and worked in a variety of media during his career, he is perhaps best known for his acclaimed series of blanket paintings. Using flannel blankets as the painting surface, he combined elements of historical Northern Plains design with personal symbolism and contemporary references. The exhibition features many of these powerful “blanket-statements” depicting the harmful impacts of the colonial process on Aboriginal philosophies, land, religions and cultures. 

In addition to the many works of art—from representational portraits and landscapes to large-scale abstract paintings—the exhibition incorporates videos and quotations that give voice to Boyer’s intentions and inspirations. It also includes first-person statements by curators and artists who knew him well, and who speak in a personal and passionate way about their own interpretations of Boyer’s artwork and its significance. 

Bob Boyer – His Life’s Work is presented at the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Gatineau from June 7 to November 4, 2012. The exhibition is organized by the MacKenzie Art Gallery in collaboration with the Canadian Museum of Civilization and made possible in part through a contribution from the Museums Assistance Program, Department of Canadian Heritage. 

The Canadian Museum of Civilization is the centre for research and public information on the social and human history of the country. Located on the shores of the Ottawa River in Gatineau, Quebec, the Museum is Canada’s largest and most popular cultural institution, attracting over 1.2 million visitors each year. The Museum of Civilization’s principal role is to preserve and promote the heritage of Canada for present and future generations, thereby contributing to the promotion and enhancement of Canadian identity. 

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