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Before and after the Horizon: Anishinaabe Artists of the Great Lakes

Public Opening

Wednesday, July 30, 2014
6:30 – 8:30 pm
Free admission

Exhibition dates

July 26 – November 23, 2014

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.

The traditional home of the Anishinaabe peoples -- comprised of Algonquin, 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 by the Art Gallery of Ontario and the National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution.

Lead Sponsor

Generously supported by

  • Valerie Greenfield Thompson & Hunter Thompson
  • The Art Gallery of Ontario Foundation Board of Trustees

This exhibition is included with general admission.

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