The physical realities of a place and the cultural values of its inhabitants combine to create landscapes that are constantly shifting. North American countries share a long history of indigenous peoples and immigrants alike undergoing immense social changes that are reflected in the landscape. The consequences have been bittersweet; along with economic opportunity came cultural loss. However, our countries also share the vibrancy and cultural diversity that have resulted from change. New attitudes and ways of life continue to emerge as people imprint their cultural identity on the landscapes they inhabit.
The physical realities of a place and the cultural values of its inhabitants combine to create landscapes that are constantly shifting. North American countries share a long history of indigenous peoples and immigrants alike undergoing immense social changes that are reflected in the landscape. The consequences have been bittersweet; along with economic opportunity came cultural loss. However, our countries also share the vibrancy and cultural diversity that have resulted from change. New attitudes and ways of life continue to emerge as people imprint their cultural identity on the landscapes they inhabit.

© CHIN 2001. All Rights Reserved.

Airplane

Airplane

David Ruben Piqtoukun (1950 - )
Collection of The Winnipeg Art Gallery; Gift of Rosalie Seidelman
1995
CANADA
Brazilian soapstone and african wonderstone
26.00 X 36.50 X 27.50 cm
© The Winnipeg Art Gallery


David Ruben Piqtoukun is an artist well known for his exploration of cultural loss and confusion in the lives of the Inuit people. This stone sculpture reveals his childhood memory of the arrival of the airplane that took him away from his family to live at a residential school in the town of Inuvik. At school he was not permitted to speak Inuktitut or to hold any Inuit cultural beliefs. Furthermore, he lost touch with his parents because he could not usually locate their camp when he was returned to the Paulatuk region each summer.
David Ruben Piqtoukun is an artist well known for his exploration of cultural loss and confusion in the lives of the Inuit people. This stone sculpture reveals his childhood memory of the arrival of the airplane that took him away from his family to live at a residential school in the town of Inuvik. At school he was not permitted to speak Inuktitut or to hold any Inuit cultural beliefs. Furthermore, he lost touch with his parents because he could not usually locate their camp when he was returned to the Paulatuk region each summer.

© CHIN 2001. All Rights Reserved

Bilking the Toll

Bilking the Toll

Cornelius David Krieghoff (1815 - 1872)
Collection of The Winnipeg Art Gallery; Gift of W.F. Alloway through The Winnipeg Foundation
1860
CANADA
oil on canvas
43.70 X 64.00 cm
© The Winnipeg Art Gallery


In the early 19th century tollgates were established on major routes into Montreal and Quebec City to fund road maintenance. The largely francophone rural population resented paying the fees to the anglophone government, and young habitants (as the French-speaking people were sometimes called) in particular sometimes tried to run the gates. This painting by a non-francophone artist makes light of the situation and depicts the habitants as mischievous yet harmless. Such stereotypical images confirmed the misguided impressions that many anglophones held of habitants as simple and frivolous people, ignoring the fact that they contended with serious social and political issues.
In the early 19th century tollgates were established on major routes into Montreal and Quebec City to fund road maintenance. The largely francophone rural population resented paying the fees to the anglophone government, and young habitants (as the French-speaking people were sometimes called) in particular sometimes tried to run the gates. This painting by a non-francophone artist makes light of the situation and depicts the habitants as mischievous yet harmless. Such stereotypical images confirmed the misguided impressions that many anglophones held of habitants as simple and frivolous people, ignoring the fact that they contended with serious social and political issues.

© CHIN 2001. All Rights Reserved

Despondency

Despondency

William Kurelek (1927 - 1977)
Collection of The Winnipeg Art Gallery; Gift of an anonymous donor
1963
CANADA
oil on masonite
© The Winnipeg Art Gallery


The lone farmer surveying his flooded fields is a powerful reminder of the fragile relationship between humans and the land. Also at work here is a sense that life continues despite hardship. The distant train, probably carrying grain, continues its trek even as the farmer despairs over his loss. This painting is part of a series documenting the life of the artist’s father, a Ukrainian immigrant who farmed on Canada’s Prairies before moving to the gentler climate of Ontario. Despondency therefore takes on a personal meaning, suggesting Kurelek’s father’s homesickness and yearning for the West (his “lost kingdom”) through the demoralized posture and isolation of the figure.
The lone farmer surveying his flooded fields is a powerful reminder of the fragile relationship between humans and the land. Also at work here is a sense that life continues despite hardship. The distant train, probably carrying grain, continues its trek even as the farmer despairs over his loss. This painting is part of a series documenting the life of the artist’s father, a Ukrainian immigrant who farmed on Canada’s Prairies before moving to the gentler climate of Ontario. Despondency therefore takes on a personal meaning, suggesting Kurelek’s father’s homesickness and yearning for the West (his “lost kingdom”) through the demoralized posture and isolation of the figure.

© CHIN 2001. All Rights Reserved

Untitled

Untitled

Unknown
Canadian Museum of Civilization
1840 - 1870
CANADA
oil on canvas
© Canadian Museum of Civilization


Just as features of the natural landscape—vegetation, geology, contour—can identify a geographical location, so too, aspects of landscape shaped by the human hand—architecture, land division, agricultural usage—can communicate who lives there. One of the ways the French Catholic population of Quebec has imprinted its identity and religious heritage upon their landscape is the croix de chemin—the roadside cross. There are some 3000 of these symbols of devotion, plain and fancy, of all materials, dotting the Quebec countryside. Many are capped with a rooster statuette, a symbol both of Christianity (St. Peter) and France.
Just as features of the natural landscape—vegetation, geology, contour—can identify a geographical location, so too, aspects of landscape shaped by the human hand—architecture, land division, agricultural usage—can communicate who lives there. One of the ways the French Catholic population of Quebec has imprinted its identity and religious heritage upon their landscape is the croix de chemin—the roadside cross. There are some 3000 of these symbols of devotion, plain and fancy, of all materials, dotting the Quebec countryside. Many are capped with a rooster statuette, a symbol both of Christianity (St. Peter) and France.

© CHIN 2001. All Rights Reserved

Untitled

Untitled

Elizabeth Angrnatquak (1938 - )
Canadian Museum of Civilization
c. 1970
CANADA
wool and cotton
© Canadian Museum of Civilization


Not all the features that imprint upon a landscape the identity of those who live there are physical. Some are present at another level of existence entirely. In Inuit tradition, the spirits of the dead that haven't been given renewed life in an infant named for them wander the earth bringing sickness and death. Ever at hand, their terrifying influence must be warded off by the living's strict adherence to behavioural taboos. These lost souls, as real as buildings or people or animals, are frequently depicted in Inuit art as two-headed creatures, often with long claws and woeful expressions.
Not all the features that imprint upon a landscape the identity of those who live there are physical. Some are present at another level of existence entirely. In Inuit tradition, the spirits of the dead that haven't been given renewed life in an infant named for them wander the earth bringing sickness and death. Ever at hand, their terrifying influence must be warded off by the living's strict adherence to behavioural taboos. These lost souls, as real as buildings or people or animals, are frequently depicted in Inuit art as two-headed creatures, often with long claws and woeful expressions.

© CHIN 2001. All Rights Reserved

Learning Objectives

The learner will:

  • Be conscious of the emotional impact that is caused and shaped by a work of art
  • Recognize that a work of art is influenced by the artist’s choice of medium, and the plight of aboriginal peoples and immigrants
  • Recognize that art can inform us about social issues and the imprint of social change on landscape
  • Be aware of the commonality of themes in landscape art among the three North American countries

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