Indigenous Art

Announcements about improvements to Edmonton’s River Valley are always highlights for me. As the community becomes more diverse, the inclusion of indigenous art is a good news story connecting us with our roots and looking to the worldwide community on the other side of our screens. Edmonton is a city with many reasons to celebrate the Metis and Plains Cree of the past, present, and future.
On the site of Joseph MacDonald’s homestead in the Edmonton River Valley is the Indigenous Art Park. Six public works of art were announced in April 2016 by the Edmonton Arts Council. Iskotew, by Amy Malbeuf, Pehonan, by Tiffany Shaw-Collinge, Mikikwan, by Duane Linklater, Turtle, by Jerry Whitehead, Preparing to cross the sacred river, by Marianne Nicolson, and Reign, by Mary Ann Barkhouse will take their place in Queen Elizabeth Park.
Queen Elizabeth Park is located in the North Saskatchewan River valley’s south shore across from the downtown core and part of Edmonton’s pre-eminent public recreation area. The Walterdale Hill location includes the outdoor pool, spray park, family picnicking, and trails for hiking and cycling below Saskatchewan Drive. To the west are the Kinsmen Park Sports Centre, Pitch and Putt Golf Course, and sports fields. To the east, you find the excellent botanical gardens of the Muttart Conservatory and the Edmonton Ski Club including the Edmonton Folk Festival. A wide range of citizens and visitors will appreciate the Indigenous Art Park in this busy, much-loved location in Edmonton.
Edmonton is home to a wide range of indigenous art. The gallery district boasts many exhibits in private galleries such as Bearclaw Gallery. West Edmonton Mall is usually in the tourist’s destinations and the Native Spirit Gallery is located there. You find other art of all kinds in many locations online as well as storefronts in Edmonton.
Besides supporting the private businesses, there is strong public support for indigenous art through committees of the City of Edmonton, the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, the Alberta Aboriginal Arts Foundation. These examples of community support are just a few of the many ways artists share in the community.
One of northern Alberta’s most famous indigenous artists is Douglas Cardinal. An architect who is a member of the Order of Canada, one of his most memorable creations is St. Albert Place on the nearby Sturgeon River. It serves as city hall, library, museum and theatre for its suburban community.
Good weather makes for great festivals and as you travel around Edmonton, you will see indigenous art throughout the city, often in the most unexpected places. Sculptures, paintings (indoors and outdoors), and all manner of multimedia can be seen.
Performances of music from traditional to hip hop, theatre from new staged work to improvisational, and the spoken word take their place as well.
Edmonton has become more cosmopolitan as people have come from all over the world for opportunities to improve their lives. Art has always been part of improving our lives. Indigenous art is part of connecting us to all people.