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Tom Hill and Elizabeth McLuhan.

Toronto, Art Gallery of Ontario, c1984.
Distributed by Methuen.
118pp, paper, $18.95.
ISBN 0458-973904.

Grades 10 and up.
Reviewed by Dave Jenkinson.

Volume 12 Number 5
1984 September

Though a catalogue of an exhibition that was held at the Art Gallery of Ontario from February 18 to April 15, 1984 and that was to travel to four other Ontario galleries, the contents add to the relatively small amount of information available in book form on the Woodland school of Canadian native art. The book is divided into two parts. The shorter, initial segment by Tom Hill, an artist and curator, sets Indian art in Canada in its historical perspective principally by showing the effect the arrival of Europeans had on the role of art in the traditional Indian way of life. Hill also reveals how native artists have been caught up in politics, both governmental and Indian.

McLuhan, an art scholar and curator, is responsible for the longer section on the Indian artists from the northwestern Ontario regional school. Naturally, the greatest attention is given to Norval Morrisseau who is credited with developing the pictographic style of painting and whom McLuhan describes as "the first Indian to study seriously and to update his own cultural beliefs and translate them visually for contemporary Indian and non-Indian audiences." Daphne Odjig, one of the very few Indian women artists working today, receives the second largest amount of space while Carl Ray, Josh Kakegamic, Roy Thomas, Saul Williams, and Blake Debassige are each handled in a page or two. For each artist, a photographic portrait is followed by autobiographical information interwoven with McLuhan's comments on the development of that person's style. Sixteen colour plates plus numerous black-and-white reproductions of the artists' works, often from private collections, are linked to the text. Oddly, the text incorporates page references to the colour plates but not for the black-and-white photos.

The work concludes with a three-page bibliography plus artists' biographies, which, in point form, list group and solo exhibitions, collections, commissions, awards, films, and publications. The writing style will challenge senior high students; nevertheless, the book is recommended for native studies programs and as an additional purchase to support art curricula.

Dave Jenkinson, Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB.
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