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Boyer, Bob (1948–2004)

Bob Boyer at Cumberland Gallery in the Saskatchewan Legislative Building, November 7, 2001.
Roy Antal (Regina Leader-Post)

Bob Boyer was a painter, installation artist, powwow dancer, social activist, educator, author of several art catalogues and reviews, curator of a significant number of art exhibitions, and a national and international exhibitor. He was born on July 20, 1948 in Prince Albert of Métis heritage. In 1971, he received a BEd (Arts Education) from the University of Regina, and upon returning to Prince Albert began teaching at St. Mary’s High School. In 1977, Boyer was hired as program consultant for the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College’s (now the First Nations University of Canada), Department of Indian Fine Arts. He was Department Head between 1979 and 1997, and was a highly respected art and art history instructor.

Boyer’s career as a professional artist began in 1971 and was recognized as a critical element in the development of contemporary First Nations art. His artistic versatility enabled him to move from one medium and technique to another, incorporating Northern Plains First Nations geometric design to reflect personal experiences, social issues, and spirituality. Boyer was best known for his politically charged “blanket statements,” which critically reviewed the effects of non-First Nation influence on First Nations people and land. He painted these accounts on blanket canvasses representing the distribution of Hudson’s Bay blankets infected with smallpox, and each piece marks how colonialism impacted the Aboriginal and Métis people. In 1994 Boyer’s work underwent a change in direction, and although he continued to use traditional symbols, motifs and icons, his art began to exhibit a place of spiritual calm from which he celebrated First Nations’ cultures, peoples and events.

Boyer’s artistic influence and teaching have provided direction and understanding to First Nations and non-First Nation students alike for First Nations’ art and art history. Bob Boyer died on August 30, 2004.

Christian Thompson

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