Edward Poitras

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Edward Poitras
Born1953 (age 65–66)
Known forSculpture, Installation

Edward Poitras (born in 1953) is a Métis artist based in Saskatchewan.[1] His work, mixed-media sculptures and installations, explores the themes of history, treaties, colonialism, and life both in urban spaces and on Indian reserves.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Poitras was born in Regina, Saskatchewan in 1953 and he is a member of the Gordon First Nation.[2]

Poitras began formal studies in 1974 when he attended the short lived Ind[ian] art program[3] at the Saskatchewan Indian Cultural College in Saskatoon where he studied with Sarain Stump whose thinking about art and its relationship to life from Indigenous perspectives would significantly influence his practice. In 1975-76 he continued his studies at Manitou College in La Macaza, Quebec with Mexican Aboriginal artist Domingo Cisneros.[2]


Poitras has participated in many significant solo and group exhibitions in Canada and internationally. Since 1980, his work has usually been included in major contemporary Aboriginal exhibitions.[2]

In 1995, he represented Canada at the Venice Biennale, He was the first Indigenous artist chosen to represent Canada at Venice.[2]

His artwork has had a profound impact on contemporary arts practices and discourse[4]. In recognition of this contribution he was awarded the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts in 2002.[5]

One of Poitras's first group exhibitions took place in 1982 when he was included in New Work by a New Generation "at the Mackenzie Art Gallery in Regina. This exhibition marked a turning point in Canada's exhibition history as it was among the country's first group exhibitions of contemporary Indigenous art.

Poitras has had solo exhibitions at the Western front in Vancouver (1998); Articule in Montreal (1991); and the Power Plant in Toronto (1989)

In 1998, he created "The Politics of Land", an earthwork at Wanuskewin Heritage Park, Saskatoon.[6]

In 2002 the Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon organized the travelling exhibition, "Qu'Appelle: Tales of Two Valleys", a large-scale survey of recent work. Other group exhibitions include "Border Zones: New Art Across Cultures" at the Audain Gallery, Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver (2010); "Database Imaginary", Walter Phillips Gallery, Banff (travelling, 2005-2006); "A History Lesson", Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, Toronto (2004) travelling to the Mackenzie Art Gallery, Regina (2003); "Lost Homelands: Manuel Pina, Edward Poitras, Jorma Puranen, Jin-me Yoon" Confederation Centre Art Gallery and Museum, Charlottetown and the Kamloops Art Gallery (traleling 1999-2000); "The Post-Colonial Landscape", Mendel Art Gallery (1993); "INDIGENA: Perspectives of Indigenous Peoples on 500 Years" Canadian Museum of Civilization, Hull, Quebec (traveling 1992-1995); "IV Biennal of Havana" Cuba (1991); "Biennial of Canadian Contemporary Art", National Gallery of Canada (1989); and "Star Dusters"' Thunder Bay Art Gallery, Thunder Bay, Ontario (1986)[7].

Poitras has taught at the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College (1976-1978), the University of Manitoba (1978) and the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College at the University of Regina (now First Nations University of Canada) from 1981-1984 and 1989-1990.[2]

His work is included in the collections of the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the Mendel Art Gallery, the Saskatchewan Arts Board, the MacKenzie Art Gallery, the Thunder Bay Art Gallery, and the Canadian Department of Indian and Northern Affairs.[2]


Several of Poitras's early installations, including Day Break Sentinel (1983), Big Iron Sky (1984), and Internal Recall (1986–88), incorporated suspended figures.[8] In the last of these, "seven life-size figures kneel with their hands bound with rope that attaches to the ceiling; on the wall, words associated with the signing of treaties with First Nations on the prairies act as connecting links between the act of binding and the notion of binding contracts, as well as the legacy of broken promises."[8]

Poitras has used a variety of materials in his art, including stone, weathered prairie bone, traditional beadwork and historical photos, sometimes alongside transistor boards, electrical wires, audio tapes and plastics.[9]

Selected solo exhibitions[edit]

Selected group exhibitions[edit]


  1. ^ Edward Poitrass, BorderZones, UBC Museum of Anthropology
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Edward Poitrass, Saskatchewan NAC Artists
  3. ^ Candice Hopkins, Acquisition Proposal for Edward Poitras's 200 Pounds of Rope, accession #43310, Curatorial File, National Gallery of Canada
  4. ^ Candice Hopkins, Acquisition Proposal for Edward Poitras's 2000 Pounds of Rope. accession #43310, Curatorial File, National Galery of Canada
  5. ^ Edward Poitrass, Saskatchewan NAC Artists
  6. ^ Edward Poitras, Aboriginal Curatorial Collective/Collectif des commissaires autochtones
  7. ^ Candice Hopkins, Acquisition Proposal for Edward Poitras's 2000 Pounds of Rope. accession #43310, Curatorial File, National Galery of Canada
  8. ^ a b c Poitras, Edward (1953–), Encyclopedia of Saskawatchewan
  9. ^ a b Edward Poitras, Encyclopedia of Canada