Benjamin Chee Chee
|Benjamin Chee Chee|
March 26, 1944|
Temagami, Ontario, Canada
March 11, 1977 (aged 32)|
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
|Movement||Woodland School of Art|
Kenneth Thomas Chee Chee (March 26, 1944 – March 11, 1977), known as Benjamin Chee Chee, was a Canadian artist of Ojibwa descent. He was born in Temagami, Ontario. Chee Chee's early life was troubled and he lost track of his mother, whom he spent many years searching for. He moved to Montreal in 1965 where he developed his love of drawing, and moved back to Ottawa in 1973.
Chee Chee's first exhibition was held in 1973 at the University of Ottawa. Soon after he gained fame as he developed his unique style of clear graceful lines and minimal colour, depicting birds and animals. Though his art featured a great deal of iconography often used by Canadian First Nations artists, Chee Chee had denied his art had symbolic meaning. He instead referred to the animals featured in his art as "creatures of the present". He also specifically referred to himself as an Ojibway artist, as opposed to allowing himself to be categorized under the broader net of simply an "Indian" artist.
After finding his mother and achieving success as an artist, Chee Chee died by suicide in an Ottawa jail in 1977. He was buried in Notre Dame Cemetery in Ottawa, Ontario. Chee Chee's work has been exhibited posthumously throughout Canada.
- Evans, Alvin L. (2004). Chee Chee: A Study of Aboriginal Suicide. McGill-Queens University Press. ISBN 978-0773526877.
- Lerner, Loren R.; Williamson, Mary F. (1991). Art and Architecture in Canada. U Toronto Press. ISBN 978-0802058560.
- Matuz, Roger (1998). St. James Guide to Native North American Artists. The University of Michigan. ISBN 978-1558622210.
- "Native artist Benjamin Chee Chee". www.native-art-in-canada.com. 2006. Retrieved 13 April 2016.