Daphne Odjig (born 1919)
Nanabajou and his Daughter
Gift of Frank and Sue Hechter
An Ojibwe of the Potawatomi Nation, Daphne Odjig was born and raised on the Wikwemikong First Nation of Manitoulin Island, Ontario. From 1963 until 1976, she lived and worked in northern Manitoba and in Winnipeg. An accomplished artist in her own right, Odjig has done much to promote recognition of contemporary First Nations art across the country and internationally: in 1970 she founded Indian Prints of Canada to market reproductions of Aboriginal art and, in 1974, she opened the Warehouse Gallery (now known as the Wah-Sa Gallery) to exhibit the work of First Nations artists. In 1973 Odjig, along with fellow artists Jackson Beardy, Eddy Cobiness, Alex Janvier, Norval Morrisseau, Carl Ray and Joseph Sanchez, founded Professional Native Indian Artists Incorporated (popularly referred to as the ‘Indian Group of Seven’) to support one another’s artistic careers, establish sources of funding for other artists and inspire younger generations to celebrate ‘being Indian’.
Nanabajou and his daughter is a silkscreen print based on an original painting of the same title that was used to illustrate a traditional Aboriginal story in the publication Tales from the Smokehouse. According to the legend, Nanabajou was capable of transforming into any living creature. He used his supernatural abilities to fulfill his lustful desires toward his eldest daughter and seduced her by posing first as a caterpillar, then as a rabbit and, finally as a handsome young stranger. The solid colours and strong geometric shapes of this image recall Picasso’s Cubism, a style that Odjig admired. Although Nanabajou and his daughter references erotic subject matter, as signified by the emphasis on the young woman’s breasts and the embracing limbs, the general structure of the composition also resembles a Pieta, with the daughter’s tilted head and serene posture conjuring up that of the Madonna.
Check out this artwork during events in Convocation Hall in Wesley Hall!