The Manitoba Government art collection includes diverse work from artists across the province. Highlighted are works of contemporary Indigenous art acquired by the Government of Manitoba. The semi-permanent installation in the Golden Boy Room at the Manitoba Legislature is an opportunity to celebrate artistic achievement through a representative selection of significant works acquired by the Government of Manitoba over the last half century. While overall, the emphasis in collecting art has been on Manitoba artists making work in Manitoba; significant other works, such as the original felt wall hanging titled Happy Face (acquired in 1960) by Inuit artist, Marion Tuu'luq from Kamanituaq, show the influence that diverse art forms and artists have had on the visual culture of Manitoba.

An emphasis on collecting artwork by Métis, Indigenous, and Inuit artists remains a priority. The intention is not only to celebrate the talent of these artists, but to display the diversity of theme, media and technique for the appreciation by all Manitobans.

Jackson Beardy prints (L-R): Thunder Dancer, Metamorphosis and Thunderbird.

Artists Daphne Odjig and Jackson Beardy are key to the installation, as both were founders of the Professional Native Indian Artists Incorporated (PNIAI). The Government of Manitoba is proud to have purchased works by these prolific artists as early as 1968. Throughout their careers, these two artists advocated tirelessly for the rights of Indigenous people and for the importance of Indigenous art, paving the way for future creative voices. Odjig and Beardy were also instrumental in developing the Woodland School of painting and throughout this installation, their legacy is tangible and can be seen in the harmonic, curvilinear, repeating forms of Courtship Dance and Time of Plenty by Len Fairchuk.

The Woodland school has many practitioners, variants and trajectories. Common are the use of primary colours, X-Ray vision, energy lines among natural and animal elements and themes of animals, nature, oral history, and transformation.

Several emerging, mid-career and established artists are also included in the installation. From Carly Morrisseau's digital prints about cultural continuity, utilizing syllabics in Cree; KC Adam's digital composite of birch-bark biting in a star-quilt motif; Jackie Traverse's unabashed celebration of women, culture, and spirituality; to Linus Woods' large scale painting about rabbits and alien being. There is truly no one defining style.

It is an honour to showcase these prolific artworks in one location. By highlighting this multifaceted chronology of works from the 1960s through to the present, selected from the Government of Manitoba art collection, the hope is to encourage further learning about each artist and about Indigenous, Inuit, and Métis Art in Manitoba.

This installation was initiated by the Honourable Myrna Driedger, 41st Speaker of the Manitoba Legislative Assembly. 

Visual Arts Department, Sport Culture and Heritage Government of Manitoba, 2023.