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Toronto - Canadian Indian art will be featured at an international art show being held this summer in conjunction with the Tenth Annual Conference of the World Crafts Council at Toronto.
Called "Canadian Indian Art 74", the show features over 200 pieces of fine and traditional art from Indian artists and craftsmen across Canada. The show will be featured at the Royal Ontario Museum between June 4 and July 14.
"The show should shatter most stereotyped misconceptions about Indian art. There aren't any birchbark souvenirs or cute totem poles here," says Willard Ahenakew, president of the Saskatchewan Indian Arts and Crafts Advisory Council.
Mr. Ahenakew, who assisted in putting the show together, said he expects the show to have great impact in international art circles and to strengthen the reputation of many Indian artists.
Artwork has been carefully collected from reserves, centres and private workshops all across Canada by Co-ordinator Tom Hill, a Seneca Indian who is an artist himself. Hill, along with his assistant Jay Baer, have put together what will be the largest and most comprehensive exhibition of Canadian Indian art ever seen in Canada.
Under the title, Canadian Indian Art '74, the show will be included in the activities of the Tenth Annual Conference of the World Crafts Council to be held June 9 - 15 at York University.
One of the highlights of the exhibit will be a low-light dramatic display of mask sculpture.
The masks, once used in secret rituals are now eagerly sought out as art objects. They vary from delicate, luminous Moon Masks, to the weird, distorted "False Faces" that warded off evil and bore scars of battles with evil spirits.
Painting on canvas is only a recent phenomenon among Canada's Indian artists but already clearly defined "Schools" have sprung up. One of the pioneers, Norval Morrisseau, an Ojibway, has been called a "genius" in his use of colour and space. Morrisseau and a group of younger artists who paint in his style explain visually and give renewed dignity to the legendary lore of the people.
Other painters like Allen Sapp and Art Shilling, working in a representational genre have chosen to capture the past and the dignity of the Indian people on their canvases.
The much-prized Haida argillite sculptures are represented in the show by gracefully carved platters, boxes and totems as well as two small sculptured pieces that tell the story of the Bear Mother legend.
Salish weaving, basketry, tamarack sculptures, silverwork, jewellery, ceramics, beadwork and wood sculpture - each art form clearly exemplifies some facet of the Canadian Indian artist's skill with aesthetic use of space, colour, line and design.
Although a brief catalogue will be available during the exhibition, a much more detailed book looking at the work of the contemporary Canadian Indian artist will be available early in 1975.
Tours will be provided weekdays, except holidays, at 2 p.m. throughout the exhibition. Canadian Indian Art '74 opens to the public on Tuesday, June 4, 1974 and will remain on view until July 14 at the Royal Ontario Museum, Avenue Road at Bloor.
Buffalo Medallion by Gerry McMaster - Plains Cree - Silver with Turquoise inlay
Cedar Twig Decoys - Tamaracks by John Blueboy - Cree
Killerwhale Agrillite Plate - Abalone inlay by Lavina Lightbrown - Haida
Raven-Hawk Storage Box by Earl Muldow, Gitskan - Red Cedar