Alberta Indigenous artists work revealed at Portage College Museum

Stewart Steinhauer with his commissioned stone sculpture Newokatew-ayisiyin’ (Four-legged Spirit Being) at Portage College Museum of Aboriginal Peoples’ Art and Artifacts. 

The Portage College Museum of Aboriginal Peoples’ Art and Artifacts unveiled three pieces from internationally renowned Indigenous artists last Friday.

Jason Carter, Stewart Steinhauer, and Dr. Jane Ash Poitras were commissioned by the Alberta Foundation of the Arts to do pieces for the Celebrating New Dawn project or the museum in Lac La Biche.

The artists were asked to consider the location in Treaty Six territory, the natural and human heritage of the area, and the context when creating their artwork to mark the anniversaries of Portage College (50 years) and MOAPAA (40 years).

These commissions celebrate the rich Indigenous cultural and natural heritage that are the roots of Portage College’s organization, community, and province.

Poitras said of her piece, Preservation Reservation 2020, in a video interview done by the museum: ““The piece is about the history of Native people and their struggle to survive. And they did survive. Native people, always resourceful, combined their traditional knowledge with knowledge gained from settlers to survive the perils of settler invasion. Education was their tool to guide them through tumultuous times. Education is the most important tool for Native people both now and in the future. And you can never get too much education. The more the better.”

Joseph Sanchez, Professional Native Indian Artists

Elijah live at Portage College Museum of Aboriginal Peoples' Art & Artifacts joined with Joseph the curator and one of The Incredible 7!

Posted by Lakeland Connect on Friday, October 4, 2019

“They’ll be here forever, as long as the building stands. We have this incredible collection here at Portage College,” said Joseph Sanchez, museum curator, and original member of the Indian Group of Seven.

Sanchez moderated the artist talk with the three commissioned artists.

The Professional Native Indians Artists (Indian Group of Seven) was founded in 1973 by Sanchez, Alex Janvier, Daphne Odjig, Jackson Beardy, Eddy Cobiness, Carl Ray, and Norval Morrisseau.

“The opportunity to come here to Portage College and the Musuem, it’s to share this art with the people. Not only the students but the community and the Native communities, that they understand that these artists in the beginning had an idea to share because most of them are internationally famous,” said Sanchez.

Jason Carter with his “Crusaders of the Land” piece that celebrates the four Indigenous communities surrounding Lac La Biche, each represented by the charging Buffalo in the center of the piece.