Alex Janvier As a member of the commonly referred to “Indian Group of Seven”, Janvier is one of the significant pioneering artists in Canada (facebook)
Born of Dene Suline and Saulteaux descent in 1935, Alex Janvier was raised in the nurturing care of his family until the age of eight. At this age, the young Janvier was uprooted from his home and sent to the Blue Quills Indian Residential School near St. Paul, Alberta. Although Janvier speaks of having a creative instinct from as far back as he can remember, it was at the residential school that he was given the tools to create his first paintings. Unlike many aboriginal artists of his time, Janvier received formal art training from the Alberta College of Art in Calgary and graduated with honours in 1960. Immediately after graduation, Janvier took up an opportunity to instruct art at the University of Alberta
Kelvin has been adopted into the Haisla nation. He carves jewellery in silver and gold, but also creates bowls and masks from alder, maple and cedar. In 1979, he studied under and worked with Barry and Derek Wilson at the Vancouver Indian Centre, and in 1980 carved a totem pole with Henry Robinson for the Indian Centre. From oxidizing to intricate cut-out work, Kelvin is always experimenting and trying new things with his jewellery. In addition, he has taught many artists how to carve in silver and gold, and he is passionate about passing skills and information on to younger carvers. From September, 2007 to February, 2008 Kelvin aided Kwakwaka’wakw/Haida artist Dan Wallace in teaching the first annual Northwest Coast Jewellery Arts Program, which was held at Vancouver’s Native Education College.
“Maybe somehow … I can … say to the viewer, ‘Look, as Native people we are just voyeurs in the history of this country.’ [In "Kanata”] the Indian is in parentheses, the Indian is surrounded by this gigantic red and this gigantic blue and is sandwiched in that environment … And that is reality because the English and the French are still the major players in the making of this history, history as it was. That is what I would like to get across.“
-Houle, on his reinterpretation of Benjamin West's The Death of General Wolfe
Painted on the artist’s 66th birthday, Blood Tears is both a statement of Mr. Janvier’s sense of loss and a celebration of his resilience, made all the more powerful with the inclusion of a lengthy inscription painted in his own hand on the rear of the canvas. The inscription details a series of losses attributed to the ten years he spent at the Blue Quills Indian Residential School: loss of childhood, language, culture, customs, parents, grandparents, and traditional beliefs. He was taken off the land he loved and severely punished for speaking his language— Denesu’liné. Being a little boy did not matter and “many, many died of broken bodies” and “broken spirit.”