Kent Monkman is a Canadian artist of Cree ancestry who works in a variety of media including painting, film/video, performance and installation. His father was Cree and his mother is English-Irish-Canadian. Thus, much of his work makes reference to the interplay between cultures. For the most part, his work reflects mythology and exploration that is rooted in his ancestral background.
Recently, I had the privilege to meet Kent Monkman and learn from one of his most recent works, “Miss America” (see picture in this post) which was outstanding. This particular piece is currently exhibited at the Pierre-François Ouellette Gallery in Toronto. What I found striking about his body of work, besides the superbly executed use of acrylics in proper academic manner, are the messages of his paintings. One is to reassert the cultural value of Aboriginal society. Second is the sense of fun; amid the glacial waters, mountains and arboretum, there is a drag queen referred as Miss Chief Eagle Testicle, as the center of attention, usually in heels and fashionable shoes! These images are not gratuitous—they are aimed to convey his third message, to raise important questions that have affected indigenous communities. The artist tackles eminent issues such as colonialism, consumerism and sexuality. In this sense, Monkman is more than a multimedia artist; he is an advocate, who through his canvases reclaims his ancestor’s rights.
Monkman’s body of work displays mastery in technicality, the use of colours, and symbolism. I highly recommend your taking the time to visit his work and to experience the power of the arts!
To learn more about indigenous people, I encourage you to read a recent article published in the Toronto Star regarding myths about the aboriginal community.