Bob Boyer: His Life's Work
Murals in Regina
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[Animated details of public mural “Barricades and Bridges”]
Narrator 1: The early 1990’s was a particularly busy period for Boyer. His geometric designs, bold colours and symmetric compositions were well suited for large scale mural formats. The Mural commission for the Dunlop Art gallery. “Barricades and Bridges” done in 1990 addresses violent events that occurred in two Mohawk communities in Quebec in the summer of 1990.Thoughout Canada in the late 1980’s political events in many communities galvanized national Aboriginal solidarity. Massive land claims were slowly proceeding in British Columbia, Ontario and the Yukon. The Quebec government announced plans to begin phase two of the Controversial James Bay hydro electric project and then there was Oka. For 78 days in the summer of 1990 Mohawk people of Kanehsatake Quebec defended their land against the impending encroachment of a golf course development of the neighbouring town of Oka.
[Image of “Barricades and Bridges, view of the Albert Branch of the Regina Public Library, view of Bob Boyer painting “Aurora Borealis]
Narrator 1: The Canadian Armed Forces and the SűretÚ du Quebec exercised physical force against the Mohawk people and many supporters struggling to defend their land. On the Mercier Bridge outside Montreal Mohawk people traveling in a convey from Kanehawake were the victims of rocks hurled at them. Some of which hit there targets through the car windows. Aboriginal artists across the country responded with unity with the Mohawk people in these Quebec communities . Boyer was no exception. His three panel painting was unveiled at the Albert Branch of the Regina Public library on December 13th 1990. Here Boyer expresses the importance of tearing down the barricades in order to build bridges in the aftermath of these conflicts. The impact of Oka would with it’s legacy of violence and denial would continue to resonate across Canada throughout the early 1990’s. In late December 1990 he turned his attention to the design for a mural intended to introduce the new First Nations hall at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum in Regina in 1991. The large scale painting , “Aurora Borealis” is an outstanding example of Boyer’s hard edge geometric design style of the Northern Plains. In his words,
[image of powow dancers against a moonlit sky]
Narrator 2: “The creator is the source of all physical and spiritual gifts without the gifts of sun, water, earth, air, plants and animals. We would be nothing. Through our prays and ceremonies we give thanks to the Creator and to all our relations for sharing with us because the Creator is generous with us, we must be generous with others…nothing is really ours. We are given these gifts, not to keep them for ourselves, but to pass them on to others. Every time we share, we strengthen the circle of life.”
[Footage showing details from “The Carousel of Life”]
Narrator 1: The subject matter of the murals seems to foreshadow Boyer’s transition towards a more introspective spiritual approach. Boyer was inspired by the value of prayer and the strong spiritual connection that First Nations people had with the Creator and with elements of nature. In this mural, Boyer includes various signs and symbols of the natural world with whom we must walk this earth together. The sky, the sun, the stars, the moon, the rainbow, the trees and the birds. Prayers to the Creator are answered in gifts - the pipe, the eagle staff, the sweat lodge, the Sundance, the tipis and the bundles. So that human kind can realize this love and respect for the universe…In 1996 Boyer painted “The Carousal of Life” a mural for the Cathedral Area Association on the west wall of the 13th Avenue shopping centre in Regina. About this work the title may suggest a carousal found at carnivals and fairs. However, the four boldly coloured horse denote the timeless and endless sequence of life that encompasses universal concepts such as the four seasons, the four directions and the four aspects of self - spiritual, mental, emotional and physical. The horse gave life to Plains Aboriginal people as they hunted for food, moved to new territories and fought enemies. Here Boyer uses the horse as a contemporary metaphor for the celebration of Aboriginal cultural traditions. The whimsical nature of this mural mirrors Boyer’s transition to more personal reflections in his artwork during the middle to late 1990’s.
Size: 5.2 MB
Credits: Video produced by Blue Hill Productions