Daphne Odjig: Gallery 2

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Rolling Head, 1972 silkscreen. I found this in an auction webpage. The story, Rolling Head, is a found all over North American, told by many tribes. None of the ones I know fit this picture. A birdwoman -- her feet are talons, and an eagle's head grows from the side of her head -- is hatching an egg. From something in her hand and from the eagle's beak come wavey lines of power.
The two types of rolling head stories I know feature a head which either symbolizes endless greed -- generally rolling all over eating up whole villages -- or the guilt of an eloping couple, who murdered a spouse or relative. The head relentlessly pursues them for revenge. Perhaps Odjig is recounting some other story. If it were not for the title of this picture, I would think it is about a woman who is partly an eagle, listening to that part of herself which is eagle -- and who will give birth to children who are eagles, a rebirth of Native cultural and spiritual heritage.

Conflict between Good and Evil This large acrylic on canvas (1975) is owned by McMichael Gallery, a museum near Toronto,which has a large collection of modern First Nations artists. at present not displayed on their web pages. This picture, in Odjig's characteristic style with strong Picasso and Miro influences, does not have an identifiable Native theme. Its sly, seductive snake is the male organ of a rapacious, beakd bat-figure, against which the small woman figure has little resistance. this is similar to the abstract, dreamy erotic illustrations Odjig did for a 1974 adult-erotic book, Tales from the Smokehouse , Herbert T. Schwartz, Edmonton (Hurley), whose paperback reprint was due entirely to the appeal of her illustrations.

Dominic and Lucy This image was found on a web page for a Vancouver picture rental outfit -- rents art to businesses and banks and such. It was the only one by a Native artist. That's all I know about it. The framining and available as rental art indicates it is a silkscreen. The names are of stock French romance characters, but this couple is plainly Indian, if thy have a sooap-opera "legend" it will be quite different.

In the early 1970's Odjig wrote and illustrated a half-dozen legends for the Manitoulin Island Ojibwe Cultural Arts Foundation. Those books are long out of print. Here, though, are two very well-known stories written and illustrated by Odjig. The dancing ducks story is found in Woodland Dakota and other cultures where there are both ducks and a mythic trickster figure. In the other book, Nanabozho, Anishinaabe culture hero, shows his other side: he saves the world caught in the icy grip of winter, and brings the spring. Both can be ordered from a Canadian mail-order source.

In 1995, Odjig donated this cheerful doodle -- "The Joy of Play" to a CyberKids group that raises money by auctioning celebrity doodles. Unlike the other doodles, mere souvenirs of rock stars and others whose talents don't line in art, Odjig's doodle has artistic value. The doodle form form captures her hard-edged style, and the spontaneous line suggests more motion and emotion than is usual in her paintings and graphics.




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CREDITS: "Rolling Head" a 1972 silk screen was found on a Lund's auction gallery web page. "Domique and Roland" was found on a Vancouver web page offering rentals to businesses of various Canaedian artists' works. The doodle was found (sold) on the Cyberkids auction web page

Text and graphics copyright 1995, 1996.

Last Updated: Saturday, July 27, 1996 - 4:17:32 PM