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Daphne Odjig’s masterpiece adorns the walls of the Museum



Daphne Odjig’s masterpiece adorns the walls of the Museum

Gatineau, Quebec, September 14, 2006 – Daphne Odjig’s masterpiece The Indian in Transition is now on display in the Northern Salon at the Canadian Museum of Civilization. This masterpiece, formerly exhibited in the Museum’s library, will now be more visible and accessible to all visitors.

Odjig has been a prominent figure on the Canadian art scene since the 1960s, when she helped spark an Aboriginal cultural revival with her unique, expressive style that fused Picasso’s Cubism with Native storytelling. She is perhaps best known as a central member of the Anishnabe or Woodland School, an art movement that also included Norval Morrisseau. Their dramatic use of animal and spirit imagery, bright colours and dark outlines transformed Native painting from ethnographic craft into highly collectible fine art.

The Indian in Transition takes the viewer on an historical odyssey from a time before the arrival of Europeans through the devastation and destruction of Aboriginal cultures to an expression of rejuvenation and hope. Odjig’s story unfolds with the figure on the left playing the drum, which symbolizes strong Aboriginal cultural traditions, while overhead is a protective Thunderbird. Then, a boat arrives filled with pale-skinned people. The boat’s bow becomes a serpent, a bad omen in Anishinabe mythology.

Next, Odjig depicts Aboriginal people trapped in a vortex of political, social, economic and cultural change. Four ethereal figures rise above the fallen cross and broken drums against a symbol of bureaucratic authority. To the right, a figure struggles free, sheltering the sacred drum, under the protection of the Thunderbird and the maternal eye of Mother Earth at the upper left of the painting. Odjig ends the story as it began, with a message of mutual understanding and hope for the future.

The Canadian Museum of Civilization will be celebrating Daphne Odjig next year with the exhibition Daphne Odjig: Four Decades of Prints, from October 11, 2007 to March 31, 2008. This major retrospective of 95 print works will provide visitors with an exceptional opportunity to celebrate Aboriginal heritage and traditions through the eyes of one of our nation’s most remarkable artists and cultural leaders.

Media Information:

Chief, Media Relations
Canadian Museum of Civilization
Tel.: 819 776-7167

Media Relations Officer
Canadian Museum of Civilization
Tel.: 819 776-7169

Fax: 819 776-7187


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