Worldview of the Artist

Compilation of Images

Richard Stanley, Lawrence B. Paul
The Winnipeg Art Gallery; Canadian Museum of Civilization, Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes, Instito Nacional de Bellas Artes, Smithsonian American Art Museum

© CHIN 2001. All Rights Reserved.


The way people and their landscapes are depicted in art can depend on the worldview of the artist and the society to which he or she belongs. For example, the word "native" applied by newcomers to the indigenous people of a land can have positive or negative connotations or both. Images of "natives" in art are similarly complex.

These paintings of Canadian First Nations people are from very different eras. One is by an early 20th century white artist, the other by a modern Coast Salish artist.
The way people and their landscapes are depicted in art can depend on the worldview of the artist and the society to which he or she belongs. For example, the word "native" applied by newcomers to the indigenous people of a land can have positive or negative connotations or both. Images of "natives" in art are similarly complex.

These paintings of Canadian First Nations people are from very different eras. One is by an early 20th century white artist, the other by a modern Coast Salish artist.

© CHIN 2001. All Rights Reserved

Gem of the Forest

This artwork shows cartoon-like, smiling Native people in a veritable teepee suburbia, set in an Ontario woodland landscape against a backdrop of western mountains. A sculpted painting (the realistic birch logs curve out from the surface, the opening of the teepee, centre, is inset), this tour-de-force showpiece transformed harsh reality into reassuring, and misleading, fiction.

Richard Stanley Williamson (1877 - 1904)
Canadian Museum of Civilization
1900
CANADA
oil, plaster on wood
© Canadian Museum of Civilization


The Universe is So Big, the Whiteman Keeps Me on My Reservation

However, there remains a legacy of anger from centuries of mistreatment and its human cost. Here, Coast Salish artist Lawrence Paul depicts a devastated Native society whose isolation and imminent destruction are mirrored by the sterile, ruined landscape that Native people—and all humanity—are forced to inhabit. The stream is barren, the mountains are denuded, and they and nature itself (parched mask, right) are shown as dying, dinosaur-like creatures.

Lawrence B. Paul (1957 - )
Canadian Museum of Civilization
1987
CANADA
acrylic on canvas
© Canadian Museum of Civilization


1. Which image depicts a place where you would prefer to live? Why?
2. Why did the artists choose to depict this subject in different ways?
1. Which image depicts a place where you would prefer to live? Why?
2. Why did the artists choose to depict this subject in different ways?

© CHIN 2001. All Rights Reserved

Learning Objectives

The learner will:

  • Appreciate how artists communicate their perspective through their work, giving examples
  • Understand that an artist’s and a viewer’s perspective influence the interpretation of art
  • Formulate personal opinions regarding the interaction of land use and culture, particularly with reference to aboriginal peoples
  • Consider how art is relevant to issues pertaining to humanity, such as aboriginal peoples

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