Joane Cardinal-Schubert

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Joane Cardinal-Schubert

LL.D (Hon), R.C.A.
Joane C-S pix-1 copy.jpg
EducationBA, BFA, LL.D (Hon), R.C.A.
Alma materAlberta College of Art and Design ,University of Alberta, University of Calgary
Notable work
Drum Dancer "aka Prairie Pony", "Song of My Dream, Bed Dance"
StyleInstallation, Mixed media, Painting
AwardsHonorary Doctor of Laws, University of Calgary

Joane Cardinal-Schubert (1942 - 2009) was an artist of Kainaiwa ancestry. She was a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. She was an activist for native sovereignty.[1]

Early life[edit]

Cardinal-Schubert was born in 1942 in the town of Red Deer. She attended the Alberta College of Art in 1962 where she studied painting, printmaking, and multimedia.[2] Cardinal-Schubert's indigenous culture was omitted from the education system, the media, history books, and arts. She focussed her work primarily on her family history and Kainaiwa ancestry.[3]


In 1973 she began a B.A. at the University of Alberta before transferring to the University of Calgary to graduate with a B.F.A. in 1977. In 1978 Cardinal-Schubert worked as an assistant curator at the University of Calgary Art Gallery, and the Nickle Arts Museum (also in Calgary), from 1979 to 1985.[2] Throughout her career her writings have been published internationally in art magazines, catalogues, and books.[2]


Cardinal-Schubert’s paintings and installations tell of her personal experiences which she weaves with social and historical events.[4] Visually her work depicts valiant Indigenous motifs while communicating about subjects that affect and impact her.[4] She takes up and revisits continuously issues of colonialism and the destruction of the environment throughout her work which at times reflects a ‘collective Indian experience’ [5] while at other times producing work which is also informed by trends in Western avant-garde and contemporary art. When asked about her experience as an Indigenous artist she writes:

"I had a difficult time realizing I was categorized by my personal expressions. The categorization of Native Art was attached to my work and others' works by non-Native curators. Even though I had written the same exams in University and fulfilled all the requirements of a degree...when I got out of school my content which was largely about myself, who I was, my responses to the world etc. was labelled as Native Art and then political art - they seemed to go together. Later when Native Curators came on the scene, and called the work Native art - that was different. We were declaring who we were, not being told by others".[4]


Cardinal-Schubert was the fourth woman to be admitted to the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in 1985.[6] In 1993 she received the Commemorative Medal of Canada and 2003 she was given as honorary doctorate of laws by her alma mata.[6][7] In 2005 she was given the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal. In 2007 the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation, now Indspire, gave her their Art Award.[1] On 30 June 2017, the Calgary Board of Education decided that a high school in the southeast community of Seton would be named in her honour. Trustee Amber Stewart stated in the announcement, "This is only the second high school in Calgary to be named after a woman. I am thrilled to recognize and honour the achievements and talents of a local woman, Joane Cardinal-Schubert.[8]"


Cardinal-Schubert is a member of the Kainai Nation (Káínawa, or Blood Tribe) which is a First Nation in southern Alberta, Canada with a population of 12,800 as of 2015, occupying approximately 549.7 square miles (884.6 km) with a Timber Limit in the Rocky Mountains of approximately 7.5 square miles (12.1 km).[9] They are part of the Niitsítapi or Blackfoot Confederacy of the Original People.[10] The traditional Blackfoot territory extends from the Rocky Mountains to the West; the Sand Hills to the East; to the North Saskatchewan in the North, and the Yellowstone in the South.[9]

The Blood Tribe/ Kainai and their political, cultural, and economic allies the Peigan and Siksika make up the Blackfoot Confederacy.[9] and are considered to be the oldest residents of the western prairie region [9] The Bloods have created and maintained an attitude of independence and pride in their identity as Kainai which has allowed them to successfully resist the efforts of governments, churches, and other European agencies from enacting systems into traditions which could have resulted in a harmful and disadvantageous effect on legal rights and the cultural identity of the Kainai.[9]

She helped create a space for Indigenous art in Canada and fought for the right of Native artists to be exhibited in galleries and museums.[3] In 2009 she traveled the province of Alberta on behalf of the Alberta Foundation for the Arts to meet with Indigenous artists and identify work from the various stages of their careers not represented in the Foundation’s collection, and to recommend purchases which directly benefited Indigenous artists and also made their work available for future generations.[1]

Her various pursuits as an activist, curator, and writer helped to expose truths about Indigenous history, culture and contemporary issues.[1] In particular her installation and painting practice is known for its insightful ability to elicit Indigenous experience while examining the unwelcomed burden of Eurocentric educational, religious, and governmental systems that were forced upon Indigenous peoples.[1]

Throughout her artistic practice she has focused on the discursive and physical divide between museum artifacts the communities they originated from while taking into account the historical conditions that gave way to the removal of those artifacts from their communities.[11] Sick of the stereotyping of the Indigenous representation she saw in galleries, she decided to start creating things that ‘have a metaphorical jump’ where the viewer can understand Indigenous issues in terms they can relate to within their own culture.[5] Her installation work Preservation of the Species, directly critiqued the Museums power and authority and the way those institutions handle Indigenous artifacts and systematically control their message.[11]


Cardinal-Schubert’ re-examined indigenous culture and politics and their relationship to white settler institutions. She discussed racism, ethnicity, colonialism, post-colonialism and the role of the museum. "There is no such thing as post-colonialism, We will tell you when colonialism is over."[citation needed]

"I have a problem with is the categorization of [the] Native Artist in a museum that does not separate other Canadian artists in exhibitions according to their race. It seems Native people cannot do anything without that adjective in front of their name."[citation needed]

In September 2009 she died after a long battle with cancer.[1]

Listings of Selected Works[edit]

  • Baptismal — The Convent Series, Medium: acrylic on canvas, Size: 40 × 40 inches[12]


Cardinal-Schubert's exhibited her artwork nationally and internationally with over 26 solo exhibitions and numerous touring group exhibitions.[6]

  • Beyond History at the Vancouver Art Gallery (1989)[13]
  • INDIGENA: Perspectives o f Indigenous Peoples on Five Hundred Years at the Canadian Museum of Civilization (1992)[13]
  • Joane Cardinal-Schubert: Two Decades at the Muttart Public Art Gallery, 9 October – 7 November 1997[14]
  • (Solo exhibit) Prairie Counter-plain - The Quilt Series, Masters Gallery Calgary Alberta 1997
  • (Solo exhibit) Prairie Mask, Derek Simpkins Tribal Arts Gallery, Calgary Alberta 1997
  • (Solo exhibit) Joane Cardinal-Schubert, Masters gallery. Calgary, Alberta 1994
  • (Solo exhibit) Joane Cardinal-Schubert RCA, Imperial Oil Gallery, Museum of the Regiments, Calgary Alberta 1994
  • (Solo exhibit) With Emily Carr (letters to Emily),Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Victoria, BC 1994
  • (Solo exhibit) Joane Cardinal-Schubert, Keepers Counting-group ,Gallery of Tribal Art, Vancouver BC1994
  • (Solo exhibit) Joane Cardinal-Schubert, Looking and Seeing, Gallery of Tribal Art, Vancouver, BC 1992
  • (Solo exhibit) Birch Bark Letters to Emily Carr, Vik Gallery, Edmonton Alberta 1991
  • (Solo exhibit) Joane Cardinal-Schubert, Inter-media Gallery, Minneapolis, Minnesota 1991
  • (Solo exhibit) Letters to Ottawa... Oka... Oka...Aiiee!, Ufindi Gallery, Ottawa, Ontario 1991
  • (Solo exhibit) Preservation of a Species: Cultural Currency, The Lesson, Articule Gallery. Montreal, Quebec 1990
  • (Solo exhibit) Preservation of a Species: Deconstructionists, Ottawa School of Art Gallery, Ottawa, Ontario 1990
  • (Solo exhibit) Joane Cardinal-Schubert, Meridian Gallery, San Francisco, California 1989
  • (Solo exhibit) Joane Cardinal-Schubert - Preservation of a Species, 1987-88 Gulf Canada Square Gallery, Calgary, Alberta 1988
  • (Solo exhibit) Preservation of a Species: Keeper, Muttart Public Gallery


  1. ^ a b c d e f Buehler, Clint (25 September 2009). "Dr. Joane Cardinal-Schubert: Cancer Claims Prominent Native Artist". First Nations Drum. First Nations Drum. Retrieved 19 February 2016.
  2. ^ a b c "Dr. Joane Cardinal-Schubert LL.D (Hon), R.C.A." Calgary Contemporary Art. Masters Gallery Ltd. Retrieved 19 February 2016.
  3. ^ a b "Canada's future: Joane Cardinal-Schubert". Indspire Indigenous education. Indspire. 20 November 2014. Retrieved 19 February 2016.
  4. ^ a b c Macleod, Jennifer (31 December 2002). "Joane Cardinal-Schubert: At the Centre of Her Circle". Gallerieswest. T2 Media Inc. Retrieved 19 February 2016.
  5. ^ a b Bissley, Jackie. "Joane Cardinal Schubert: An Artist Setting Traps". Windspeaker: Aboriginal Multi-Media Society (AMMSA). (AMMSA). Retrieved 19 February 2016.
  6. ^ a b c Lee., Maracle; Sandra., Laronde (1 January 2000). My home as I remember. Dundurn. pp. 102. ISBN 9781896219530. OCLC 288133625.
  7. ^ "Contemporary Art | Dr. Joane Cardinal-Schubert LL.D (Hon), R.C.A." Masters Gallery Ltd. 2017.
  8. ^ "New Public Schools Named" (PDF). CBE. 30 June 2017.
  9. ^ a b c d e "Kainai First Nation". Kainai First Nations. Retrieved 19 February 2016.
  10. ^ "Kainai". IC Magazine: A Publication of the Center for World Indigenous Studies Archive. IC Magazine. Retrieved 19 February 2016.
  11. ^ a b McMaster, Gerald (April 2012). "Museums and the Native Voice". In Carbonell, Bettina Messias (ed.). Museum Studies: An Anthology of Contexts (2nd ed.). Wiley-Blackwell. p. 380. ISBN 978-1-4051-7381-0. Retrieved 19 February 2016.
  12. ^ "Baptismal — The Convent Series". Spirit Wrestler Gallery. 2017. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  13. ^ a b MacRae, Alisdair (1 August 2012). Joane Cardinal-Schubert: Aboriginal Woman Artist (PDF). Ottawa, Ontario: Carleton University. p. 1.
  14. ^ Garneau, D (Winter 1998). "Cardinal-schubert, joane. muttart public art gallery". Border Crossings. 17: 49.