Jane Ash Poitras is one of the most powerful First Nations artists.
Of the Cree Nation she paints, writes and makes prints.
Her career path is not the usual. She was graduated with a bachelor of science degree in chemistry from the University of Alberta. Discovered working in a chemistry lab was not what she wanted to do with her life.
Instead she wound up getting her bachelor of fine arts from the University of Alberta’s department of art and design.
Prior to that she took a printmaking and drawing program at Yale University.
Later she attended Columbia University in New York, where she received a Master of Fine Arts in printmaking.
Her paintings – often collages – challenge perceptions of indigenous people, their role in society, their history, especially in a white society. Often each tiny aspect of her art contribute to a bit here and a bit there – adding up to powerful statements, often indictments of white society.
Her reach in the art world is world-wide, featured in museums and art galleries.
Brooklyn, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Phoenix, Toronto and Montréal.
Her paintings often are large. One triptych – Potato Peeling 101 to Ethnobotanty 101 – in the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto is 25 feet long by nine feet high.
I met Poitras and her young son 20 years ago at a her first gallery show in Vancouver.
The show was impressive and I did what I have done often during my 40 years of collecting art – I bought a piece.
Poitras is one of the most important First Nations artists.
Here is but a small sampling of her works.