Indigenous art comes to ROM
‘Tour of the land’ aims to reach youth and urbanites
Among the hundreds of paintings Saul Williams has created, one in particular evokes childhood memories.
It depicts a woman busily tending to flowers inside a house. Williams calls it White Women and their Plants.
“That’s what I was taught as a young kid in school,” said the artist, who grew up in North Caribou Lake First Nations. “You should live like white people and you shouldn’t be Indians anymore.”
Williams never had plants inside, he said. Instead his house was full of tools and illustrations.
“It shows a difference between homes and people’s identity. You can’t change an apple to an orange,” he said.
That painting is one of nearly 150 pieces assembled in a special exhibition launching this weekend at the Royal Ontario Museum. Anishinaabeg: Art and Power explores the evolution of Indigenous art through hundreds of years of history, traditions and legends.
Williams teamed up with two other distinguished curators, Alan Corbiere and Arni Brownstone, to put the exhibit together with the goal of celebrating the power and passion of Indigenous artists. The paintings, drawings, textiles and sculptures in the exhibition were chosen to express themes of creation, travel, dancing and ceremony.
They originated from as far as Quebec, Saskatchewan and Minneapolis.
Part of the objective of the exhibition is to encourage young people to learn about Indigenous traditional lifestyles, said Williams.
“Being at this exhibition is like a tour of the land,” he said.
“We just want people in urban areas like Toronto to be aware of our values and our culture and to respect it.” Other pieces in the exhibition.
indigenous artist Saul Williams and one of his pieces, White Women and their Plants. cOnTribuTed