Accessibility View
Open today from 10AM - 5PM

Monday: Closed

Tuesday: Closed

Wednesday: 10AM - 5PM

Thursday: 10AM - 9PM

Friday: 10AM - 9PM

Saturday: 10AM - 5PM

Sunday: 10AM - 5PM

Exhibition explores the legacy of the canoe through historical and contemporary works

For immediate release — January 25, 2022

SASKATOON, CANADA — On January 29, Remai Modern opens Canoe, a new exhibition in the museum’s free Connect Gallery. Through historical and contemporary works, visitors are invited to see how canoes are not only practical innovations that have featured prominently in Canadian art history but works of art themselves. The exhibition explores the arc of tradition, colonization, appreciation, recovery and inventiveness that has articulated the movement of the canoe through history and into the future. 

“The canoe has a legacy as an icon of Canadian culture. It is, of course, a practical vessel that made it possible to traverse the country’s waterways for its Indigenous inventors and those that later adopted its use. But the canoe itself is a beautiful, artful form that has long been depicted in works of art and, in contemporary times, shown as an artwork itself. The canoe is an object that helps transfer traditional knowledge and showcase the potential for future innovation,” said Michelle Jacques, Remai Modern’s Head of Exhibitions & Collections/Chief Curator. “For many, the canoe embodies intellectual, spiritual and philosophical ideas, shows us the beauty of the world, and engenders a palpable emotional response – just as so much of the best art does.”

Drawn largely from a private collection of art built around the collectors’ passion for canoes, this exhibition explores how works of art documenting the historical structure and usage of Indigenous vessels has played a role in carrying cultural knowledge forward. Paintings by Frances Anne Hopkins, Cornelius Krieghoff, David Milne, Lucius O’Brien and others will be presented alongside works of art by Indigenous artists including Klehwetua Rodney Sayers, Pinock Smith, and Joe Talirunili.

The exhibition details three types of vessels created and used extensively by the Indigenous peoples of this country: birchbark canoes, dugout canoes and kayaks. The exhibition’s co-curators, Remai Modern colleagues Lyndon J. Linklater and Kelly Tolley, contributed invaluable insight about the ongoing cultural importance of canoes. Thanks to the collaboration of the University of Saskatchewan Shared Spaces project, visitors will also be able to explore, in augmented reality, a birchbark canoe made by Annie and Isaiah Roberts — fluent Woodland Cree speakers from Stanley Mission and members of Lac La Ronge Indian Band (LLRIB) — on the banks of Otter Lake, SK in the 1970s. 

Sayers’ work, which was created in 2021, is a full-sized dugout canoe painted sleekly at an autobody shop. The exhibition will also include a birchbark canoe created by master canoe maker Pinock Smith. These and other contemporary works are featured alongside paintings by artists who were active in the 19th and early-20th century, many of whom travelled the country painting along the way. Showcasing these works together illustrates the connections that link the canoe to the present day and the art world, while still delving into the vessel’s storied past.

Canoe is on view until May 8. The exhibition is supported by BMO Private Wealth and Grit & Scott McCreath and Family.

Featured artists: 

·       William Armstrong

·       Frederic Marlett Bell-Smith

·       Ken Danby

·       James Duncan

·       Tom Forrestall

·       John Arthur Fraser

·       John Wedderburn Halkett

·       Frances Anne Hopkins

·       Charles Huot

·       Franz Johnston

·       Augustus Kenderdine

·       Cornelius Krieghoff

·       Ernest Lindner

·       Thomas Wesley McLean

·       David Milne

·       Thomas Wilberforce Mitchell

·       Edmund Montague Morris

·       Thomas Mower Martin

·       Pierre Nauya

·       Lucius O’Brien

·       Walter J. Phillips

·       Klehwetua Rodney Sayers

·       Margaret Shelton

·       Daniel “Pinock” Smith

·       Amanda Strong

·       Joe Talirunili

·       David Thauberger

·       Frederick Arthur Verner

·       John Webber

About Remai Modern

Remai Modern is situated on Treaty 6 Territory and the Traditional Homeland of the Métis. We pay our respects to First Nations and Métis ancestors and reaffirm our relationship with one another.

Remai Modern is a new museum of modern and contemporary art in Saskatoon. The museum is committed to affirming the powerful role that art and artists play in questioning, interpreting and defining the modern era.

Open since October 2017, Remai Modern is the largest contemporary art museum in western Canada and houses a collection of more than 8,000 works, including the world’s foremost collection of Picasso linocut prints.

Remai Modern would like to acknowledge the contributions of the Frank & Ellen Remai Foundation, the Canada Council for the Arts, SaskCulture through the Sask Lotteries Fund, SaskArts and the City of Saskatoon.

For additional information contact:

Stephanie McKay, Communications Manager