Daphne Odjig 1919-2016
Daphne Odjig, Potawatomi Artist
Daphne Odjig is one of Canada’s most celebrated Aboriginal painters and printmakers. Born on Manitoulin Island’s Wikwemikong reserve of Odawa, Potawatomi and English heritage, she first learned about art-making from her grandfather, Jonas Odjig, a tombstone carver who taught her to draw and paint. She later moved to British Columbia.
Odjig’s style, which underwent several developments and adaptations from decade to decade, manages to always remain identifiable. Mixing traditional Aboriginal styles and imagery with Cubist and Surrealist influences, Odjig’s work is defined by curving contours, strong outlining, overlapping shapes and an unsurpassed sense of colour. Her work has addressed issues of colonization, the displacement of Aboriginal peoples, and the status of Aboriginal women and children, bringing Aboriginal political issues to the forefront of contemporary art practices and theory. The jury described Daphne Odjig’s work as “groundbreaking”, noting her unique voice and her role as a “real champion” of Aboriginal artists. Sadly Daphne Odjig passed away in 2016, at the age of 97.