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AGO celebrates Anishinaabe artists of the Great Lakes region with major exhibition this summer

Exhibition features contemporary art by Norval Morrisseau, Bonnie Devine, Robert Houle, Michael Belmore, in addition to traditional Anishinaabe objects

TORONTO — For more than 12,000 years, the Great Lakes region has produced a distinct culture of Anishinaabe artists and storytellers. The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) celebrates those artists and stories this summer with Before and After the Horizon: Anishinaabe Artists of the Great Lakes, featuring artworks by leading modern and contemporary artists — including Norval Morrisseau, Bonnie Devine, Robert Houle, Keesic Douglas, Michael Belmore, Daphne Odjig and others — who sought to visually express the spiritual and social dimensions of human relations with the earth. Marking the first major exhibition of art by Anishinaabe peoples, Before and After the Horizon opens July 26, 2014 and runs to Nov. 25, 2014.

The traditional home of the Anishinaabe peoples — comprised of Algonquinn, Mississauga, Nippissing, Ojibwe (Chippewa), Odawa (Ottawa), Potawatomi and Saulteaux nations — the region includes Ontario, Manitoba and Quebec in addition to eight U.S. states and has inspired generations of stories and experiences that are spiritual, political and challenge certain accepted accounts of history. These same sources of inspiration are visible in traditional Anishinaabe arts included in the exhibition, including clan pictographs on treaty documents, bags embroidered with porcupine quill, painted drums and carved pipes, spoons and bowls.

Before and After the Horizon is co-organized by the AGO and the National Museum of the American Indian. It is curated by David Penney (NMAI) and Gerald McMaster (Plains Cree/Sisika First Nation). To celebrate this important exhibition, Andrew Hunter, the AGO's Fredrik S. Eaton Curator, Canadian Art,has organized a series of complementary interventions and installations to extend the dialogue into the AGO’s own collection of Canadian art.

“This is a powerful exhibition that is very much about this place and its timeless connection to a distinct world view, one that continues to resonate with Anishinaabe,” said Hunter. “The AGO is situated in the very heart of traditional Anishinaabe territory, and we are honoured to position this exhibition as a catalyst for reimaging our sense of place and community, and to feature the ground-breaking work of a significant group of artists who have lived and work in this area.”

Bonnie Devine, a noted Objibwe artist and educator, will work with Hunter to transform one of the permanent collection galleries while Robert Houle (Saulteaux) will present a new installation entitled Seven Grandfathers in the AGO’s Walker Court.

“This exhibition is a welcome opportunity to reconsider, through various political and aesthetic interventions by Anishinaabe artists, how Canadian art history has been traditionally presented at the AGO,” said Devine. “The Anishinaabe have continuously occupied the territory around the Great Lakes for at least 12,000 years, so a survey exhibition of contemporary Anishinaabe art is overdue.”

Organized thematically, Before and After the Horizon explores six concepts of shared relevance to Anishinaabe people:

 • place, the traditional Anishinaabe home in the Great Lakes region;
 • cosmos, traditional spirituality and the Anishinaabe conception of their place in the universe;
 • church, Anishinaabe relations with Christianity;
 • contested space, the Great Lakes region as a point of contact and engagement between Anishinaabe people    and the outside world;
 • cottager colonialism, Anishinaabe relations with vacation visitors to the Great Lakes region; and
 • many worlds, the multiple cultural influences characteristic of the Anishinaabe experience today.

Before and After the Horizon is included with the price of general admission and is free to AGO members. More information on the benefits of AGO membership can be found at www.ago.net/general-membership.

This exhibition is organized by the Art Gallery of Ontario in collaboration with the National Museum of the American Indian.

Lead sponsor: TD Bank Group

Generously supported by:
Valerie Greenfield Thompson & Hunter Thompson
The Art Gallery of Ontario Foundation Board of Directors

ABOUT THE AGO
With a collection of more than 80,000 works of art, the Art Gallery of Ontario is among the most distinguished art museums in North America. From the vast body of Group of Seven and signature Canadian works to the African art gallery, from the cutting-edge contemporary art to Peter Paul Rubens’ masterpiece The Massacre of The Innocents, the AGO offers an incredible art experience with each visit. In 2002 Ken Thomson’s generous gift of 2,000 remarkable works of Canadian and European art inspired Transformation AGO, an innovative architectural expansion by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry that in 2008 resulted in one of the most critically acclaimed architectural achievements in North America. Highlights include Galleria Italia, a gleaming showcase of wood and glass running the length of an entire city block, and the often-photographed spiral staircase, beckoning visitors to explore. The AGO has an active membership program offering great value, and the AGO’s Weston Family Learning Centre offers engaging art and creative programs for children, families, youths and adults. Visit ago.net to find out more about upcoming special exhibitions, to learn about eating and shopping at the AGO, to register for programs and to buy tickets or memberships.

Aug. 23, 2014 – Jan. 4, 2015: Alex Colville

Oct. 18, 2014 – Jan. 11, 2015: Michelangelo: Quest for Genius

Feb. 7, 2015 – May 10, 2015: Basquiat

The Art Gallery of Ontario is funded in part by the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport and receives additional operating support is received from the City of Toronto, the Canada Council for the Arts and generous contributions from AGO members, donors and private-sector partners.

 

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For press inquiries, please contact:

Andrea-Jo Wilson; News Officer, AGO Communications
416-979-6660, ext. 403, andrea-jo_wilson@ago.net

Laura Banks; News Officer, AGO Communications
416-979-6660, ext. 504, laura_banks@ago.net

Caitlin Coull; Manager, AGO Communications
416-979-6660, ext. 364, caitlin_coull@ago.net

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