Quill and Quire

REVIEWS

« Back to
Book Reviews

Odjig: The Art of Daphne Odjig 1966-2000

by Bob Boyer & Carol Podedworny, Daphne Odjig, illus.

Until fairly recently, aboriginal art was considered quaint craftwork, suitable for discussion by ethnologists strictly in terms of its function within aboriginal societies. But over the last few decades, aboriginal art has slowly come to be appreciated by curators and collectors for its range of representation and meaning. One of the pioneers in gaining this recognition is Daphne Odjig. Born on Manitoulin Island in 1919 to an Anishnabe father and an English mother, Odjig came of age as an artist when being both native and a woman meant exclusion from the Canadian art scene twice over. Her struggle – and the work that resulted – is the subject of Odjig: The Art of Daphne Odjig 1966-2000.

The volume is long on full-colour reproductions from Odjig’s 40-year career, highlighing her intensely spiritual early drawings and clearly outlining her development as a painter. Introductory essays by Métis artist Bob Boyer and academic Carol Podedworny offer a thorough grounding in Odjig’s artistic lineage (Midewiwin medicine society scrolls and Anishnabe petroglyphs) and her style (strongly influenced by Picasso’s cubism). Podedworny’s multi-chaptered essay also offers important background information about the Woodland School of Art, the transition of aboriginal art from museums to galleries in the early 1960s, and the current mainstreaming of contemporary aboriginal art.