Cultural Memories and Imagined Futures

The Art of Jane Ash Poitras


Cultural Memories and Imagined Futures

In the past decade, Jane Ash Poitras, a First Nations woman from northern Alberta, has emerged as one of the most important Canadian artists of her generation.

Raised by a German widow who powdered her dark skin and tried to make her straight hair curl, Poitras did not begin to fully explore her indigenous roots until adulthood. Seeking out her extended family and participating in profound cultural experiences, she began to discover the side of herself that she was denied as a child. At the same time, she made a commitment to her art. With the opportunity to pursue a master's degree at Columbia University in New York, Poitras was at the centre of the North American contemporary art scene. Together, these dual influences shaped Poitras' unique style, one that combines representational strategies of postmodern art - collage, layering, overpainting, incorporation of found objects - with a deep commitment to the politics and issues common to indigenous peoples.

Cultural Memories and Imagined Futures: The Art of Jane Ash Poitras situates Poitras's work in the national context of Canadian First Nations art during the late 1980s and early 1990s, the period when she began to receive wide recognition. It is the first book-length study to examine Poitras's career as a whole, recounting her development as an artist, participation in major exhibitions, and recognition as a significant Canadian and international artist. Along with detailed analyses of specific artworks, Pamela McCallum has also compiled the most extensive bibliography of writings on Poitras to date.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Cover 1
Inside Front Cover 2
Series Page 4
Copyright Page 6
Sections (Contents) 7
Acknowledgments 9
Introduction 11
Beginnings 17
Indigenous Art and Traditions of Art History 29
“It was the right time” 35
Who Discovered the Americas 49
Living in the Storm Too Long 59
Indigena 71
A Sacred Prayer for a Sacred Island 81
Painting the Colonial Archive 89
Painting the Popular Culture Archive 103
Communities 113
Blackboards and Writing in Paint 125
The Artist and Spirituality 137
Works Cited and Consulted 147
Notes 155
Index 157
Back Inside Cover 163
Back Cover 164