Jane Ash Poitras states: "you can take your art and create something good, and that becomes your bow and arrow." Poitras uses her art to comment on First Nations’ issues both past and present. The theme of First Nations' identity, explored through personal affairs, political struggles, and historical events form the basis of her art. A two- dimensional mixed-media collage, The Contrary is a composite of photographs, magazine clippings, and painted objects or symbols that is both celebratory of her people’s culture and reactive to Western oppression. Like her other works, The Contrary seeks to reveal significant cultural elements and icons that can liberate and spiritually strengthen First Nations’ communities. The artist states, "Only through spiritual renewal can we find out who we really are and acquire the wisdom to eliminate the influences that bring tragedy upon us and destroy us."1
In the latter half of the twentieth century, First Nations artists in Canada have become an increasingly visible part of the Canadian cultural presence. This was brought about by an increase in social actions taken by the First Nations people themselves. The ongoing efforts of committed individuals, within the First Nations art community, which were directed at the public art museum and gallery system finally resulted in a shift in attitude. By the 1980s First Nations art was being exhibited in public art galleries, finally separating it from the stigma of being considered merely as ethnological artifacts.
1 Jane Ash Poitras, “Jane Ash Poitras,” in Indigena: Contemporary Native Perspectives, Gerald McMaster and Lee-Ann Martin, eds. Copyright © (Hull: Canadian Museum of Civilization, Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 1992) 167.