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Robert Houle - Seven Grandfathers at Walker Court

Showcasing Anishinaabe Culture

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

Exibition Dates

July 26 – November 25, 2014


robert-houle-artistA large crowd, that included a who’s who of the First Nations art world greeted Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation (MNCFN) Chief Bryan LaForme with warm applause as he welcomed everyone to the traditional Territory of the MNCFN and officially opened a landmark exhibition of First Nation art on July 30, 2014 at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

The reception for the exhibition took place in the gallery’s Walker Court. High on walls hung Seven Grandfathers, an installation of the work of Robert Houle.

The applause continued when Chief LaForme announced, “The MNCFN have been recently honoured by the province when they recognized us as Host First Nation for the Toronto 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games.”

Chief LaForme then thanked MNCFN Elder Garry Sault for doing the opening. “ Garry does such a great job. I would also like to recognize all the Elders, Chiefs, guests and dignitaries here tonight.”

“It is a pleasure to be here tonight and witness this exhibition. I know Robert [Houle] and he has been to our community to make presentations,” the Chief said about the artist who has made the traditional teachings of the Anishinaabe central to his work.

Grandfarhers' Gifts“First Nations artists identify who we are as the First Peoples of this land and country. It’s important we honour our artists in this room because they identify us as First Nations people,” the Chief added.

“I’d like to thank Robert for honouring the teachings of our grandfathers,” he concluded.

The Algonquin, Mississauga, Nippissing, Ojibwe, Odawa, Potawatomi and Saulteaux Nations call the Great Lakes basin home. The Art Gallery of Ontario, in mounting Before and after the Horizon: Anishinaabe Artists of the Great Lakes has produced a exhibition of Anishinaabe art that celebrates the connection of these Nations to their traditional Territory .

The exhibition features the cultural explorations of contemporary Anishinaabe artists, with artworks by leading modern and contemporary artists—including Norval Morrisseau, Bonnie Devine, Robert Houle, Keesic Douglas, Michael Belmore, Daphne Odjig—displayed in conjunction with traditional artifacts and works from the Art Gallery of Ontario’s permanent collection.

One artist in particular—Robert Houle—uses the concept of the Seven Grandfathers as the focus for his installation in the gallery’s Walker Court. In his artist statement accompanying his installation, Houle asserts that, “Spiritually, concepts of respect and sharing form the foundation of an Anishinaabe way of life.”

Before and after the Horizon: Anishinaabe Artists of the Great Lakes runs until November 25, 2014.

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“As an Anishinaabe artist, I wanted my Saulteaux maternal language, culture and history to play an important role in defining my response to Walker Court and its institutional history. Spiritually, concepts of respect and sharing form the foundation of an Anishinaabe way of life, built around seven sacred teachings- gifts from the grandfathers. It was my desire to create a new mediated space here that would give visitors an active sense of an expanded living presence. The seven ceremonial drums made specifically for this space symbolize visions of nature and the perception and traces of memory. There are seven drums for dream songs about the presence of animals and other totemic creatures of the ancestors. Each grandfather is characterized by an animal and a teaching.”