Daphne Odjig

“ I see my paintings as a celebration of life. My sub-conscious mind may well dictate some content and I’m content to leave it at that. I am uncomfortable with words - my paintings are perhaps my most honest and legitimate statement.”

Daphne Odjig is one of Canada’s most celebrated Indigenous painters and printmakers.

Born on Manitoulin Island’s Wikwemikong reserve of Odawa, Potawatomi and English heritage, she first learned about art-making from her grandfather, Jonas Odjig, a tombstone carver who taught her to draw and paint. She later moved to British Columbia. Odjig’s style, which underwent several developments and adaptations from decade to decade, manages to always remain identifiable. Mixing traditional Indigenous styles and imagery with Cubist and Surrealist influences, Odjig’s work is defined by curving contours, strong outlining, overlapping shapes and an unsurpassed sense of colour.

Her work has addressed issues of colonization, the displacement of Indigenous Peoples, and the status of Indigenous women and children, bringing Indigenous political issues to the forefront of contemporary art practices and theory. She is the winner of the 2007 Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts.

Photo: Martin Lipman