Bob Boyer: His Life's Work
His Legacy: Impact of Boyer's Artistic Practice, Teaching and Curating
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[Footage of powwow dancers]
Narrator: Bob Boyer was an artist at a critical time in the history of Aboriginal people. He was a leader, an innovator and educator and he left a lasting impression with his friends and colleagues.
[Interview footage of Kate Davis, Director, MacKenzie Art Gallery (1997 – 2008), with cutaways to footage of powwow dancing]
Kate Davis: I think that Bob’s role through out the 80’s and 90’s here in Regina was an important contribution to not just local history, but also to Canadian art history. His work with , a new by, “New Work By A New Generation“- way back in 1982. This was a significant exhibition that he helped to produce and shape. He was in the show, but very importantly he was one artist who really helped to shape the reason why it was important to do the show. I mean when you think about the fact that First Nations work for years and years, and years was recognized as ethnology and if you wanted to see First Nations art you would go to a history museum. He was a real pioneer and a real advocate for First Nations work as contemporary practice and that continued through with, “Horses Fly…“ and continued through with his “Powwow” show that he did with Lee-Ann Martin. This is a way that he really contributed in filling that gap.
[Interview footage of Lee-Ann Martin, Curator, Contemporary Canadian Aboriginal Art, Canadian Museum of Civilization, former Head Curator, MacKenzie Art Gallery]
Lee-Ann Martin: I’ll just always remember Bob for his generosity of spirit and his manner of helping, assisting you arrive at a certain conclusion without telling you what the answer is. He helped you think and understand and work through things and I know was his methodology, his pedagogy in teaching as well. And I think that also was also his approach in his art.
[Interview footage of Michael Laliberte, close friend and Powwow dancer]
Michael Laliberte: The art world has I guess rules and things and Bob would stay within those to produce his art. However he liked to always play with things and twist things and make a statement and he you know over the years he changed through political statements to humour statements to … at one point he did a series of paintings, the names he gave them where his tribute, and the respect that he had for Aboriginal peoples and for the powwow world. And he would give these names that had nothing to do with the painting and it was interesting to watch like at a show. To watch critics and people look at the colour, and the line, and the artistic value of the piece. And then to watch Aboriginal people come in and they would all start laughing because they would relate to the story. They would relate to the name more than the painting.
[Interview with Viviane Gray, Manager, Indian and Inuit Art Centre, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development]
Viviane Gray: In an essay that he wrote, a retrospective of Allan Sapp in 1994. I remember he wrote something that was really a teaching that he got from the elders. Where he said that in the native community, if your born with a gift like he was. If your born with a gift of being an artist, you use it, you use it as well as you can. You don’t squander it and you have to use it for the good of the community and to me that was typical of how Bob was…
[Interview footage with Ted Godwin, Artist, Teacher, and Friend, cut-away to video of pow-wow dancers and sunset]
Ted Godwin: Some say what a shame it was he died. I say what a wonderful thing it was that he was able to leave the legacy that he left. And what a wonderful way, there are those who say this is the big room and those who say this is the waiting room. And the closer I get to answering the question. The more I think well maybe this is the waiting room. Whatever it is, whether it the big room or the waiting room. There are very few of us who are allowed to dance our way from one world to the next and can you imagine Bob fully rigged and gigged with his bodice, feathers, dancing his way through into the spirit world …amazing, amazing vision, yeah ..well remembered ...well remembered.
Size: 20 MB
Credits: Video produced by Blue Hill Productions