Contemporary Indigenous (Aboriginal) art is that which has been produced by Indigenous peoples between around 1945 up to the present. Since that time, two major schools of Aboriginal art have dominated the contemporary scene in Canada: West Coast Aboriginal art and the Woodlands school of Legend Painters.
Zacharias Kunuk, OC, filmmaker, carver, sculptor, visual artist (born 27 November 1957 in Kapuivik, Nunavut). An internationally acclaimed media maker, Zacharias Kunuk has played a crucial role in the redefinition of ethnographic filmmaking in Canada and has been at the forefront of the Inuit’s innovative use of broadcast technology. He is perhaps best known for his debut feature film, Atanarjuat (The Fast Runner), which won six Genie Awards (including Best Screenplay, Best Direction and Best Motion Picture) and was ranked the No. 1 Canadian film of all time in a 2015 poll conducted by the Toronto International Film Festival.
Norval Morrisseau, artist (born 14 March 1932 in Sand Point Reserve, near Beardmore, ON; died 4 December 2007 in Toronto, ON). Morrisseau was a self-taught artist of Ojibwa ancestry (his Ojibwa name, which appears in syllabics on his paintings, means "Copper Thunderbird") who originated the pictographic style.
Winner of the Sobey Art Award in 2006 and included in prestigious international exhibitions such as Documenta in Kassel, Germany, and in collections like that of the National Gallery of Canada, Annie Pootoogook was born into a family of accomplished Inuit artists. She is the daughter of graphic artist Napachie Pootoogook and printmaker and carver Eegyvudluk Pootoogook, and is the granddaughter of Pitseolak Ashoona. Her uncle was Kananginak Pootoogook.
Robert Markle, painter, writer, musician, educator (born 1936 in Hamilton, ON; died 1990 in Mount Forest, ON). Markle was Mohawk, but his relationship to his ancestry was not straightforward. It was only later in life that Markle actively incorporated aspects of his Indigenous identity into his art. Most well known for his female nudes, Markle usually depicted his wife, Marlene, or burlesque dancers. Following a Toronto police raid of a gallery exhibiting his work in 1965, some of Markle’s drawings were identified as obscene by a judge. Markle remains known for his sensual and passionate artwork.
More than 3,000 years ago, Indigenous peoples of the coast of British Columbia (and adjacent areas of Washington State and southeastern Alaska) such as the Haida and Kwakwaka'wakw developed artistic traditions that are heralded throughout the world for their imaginative and stylistic qualities.
The history of Indigenous (Aboriginal) art in Canada begins sometime during the last Ice Age between 80,000 and 12,000 years ago. To date, however, the oldest surviving artworks (excluding finely crafted, aesthetically significant stone tools) are datable to no earlier than 5,000 years ago.
The Dancers of Damelahamid are a First Nations dance collective from the Northwest coast of British Columbia, traditional territories of the Gitksan nation. Damelahamid refers to the origins of the first ancestor, Hagbegwatku, and the land granted the Gitksan when their ancestors were placed on earth. It is a geographic location near Hazelton, BC, where the 'Ksan Historical Village and Museum is found.
George Hunt, ethnographer and museum acquisitions collector (born 14 February 1854 in Fort Rupert, BC; died there September 1933). He is best known for his work with anthropologist Franz Boas; together they documented the language, rituals and customs of Hunt’s people, the Kwakwaka'wakw (Kwakiutl). Hunt's rich ethnographic notes and artifact collections provided the first ethno-history of the Kwakwaka'wakw culture.