A powerful matriarch and force in the Canadian art world, Daphne Odjig (1919-2016) affected and inspired so many artistically, in hearts, mind, and spirit. She was kind and encouraging to so many generations and her passing is a great loss to the art world. Odjig worked hard to foster and assert the voices of Indigenous artists and provide a space for inclusion and exhibition. In 1971 she opened a gallery in Winnipeg and added a print shop and craft store before expanding it to create the New Warehouse Gallery, the first gallery owned and operated by a person of Indigenous heritage in Canada. Faced with the challenges of exclusion at that time, Odjig self-determined an Indigenous-centered space for she and her colleagues, plus a whole new generation of artists to follow in her path and in the Woodland School style legacy. Odjig’s vision and deliberative undertaking in creating a space enforced an important act of positive resistance of the mainstream canon of art and exclusivity of the art world.
So many in the arts owe her a great debt in gratitude. Chi miigwetch (thank you) Daphne Odjig. You will be missed and remembered for your immense and beautiful legacy. I’m so honoured to have been in her presence and warmth. No words can express how much you have affected so many.
Jaimie Isaac, Curatorial Resident of Indigenous & Contemporary Art
Winnipeg Art Gallery
Photo: Roy Antal/Regina Leader Post