Carl Beam

About the Artist

Carl Beam is an internationally acclaimed Canadian artist of  OjibweOne of the most populous and widelydistributed First Nations groups in North America, with 150 Ojibwe bands throughout the north-central United States and southern Canada. Ojibwe and Chippewa are renderings of the same Algonquian word, "puckering," probably referring to their characteristic moccasin style. "Chippewa" is more commonly used in the United States and "Ojibway" or "Ojibwe" in Canada, but the Ojibwe people themselves use their native word Anishinabe (plural: Anishinabeg), meaning "original people." Today there are 200,000 Ojibwe people living throughout their traditional territories. Ojibwe-Chippewa-Anishinabe A Native American Tribe: http://countryside.edina.k12.mn.us/CurrWeb/staff/gr3/native_am/ojibwe-resources.htm Chippewa Indian Tribe: http://www.native-languages.org/chippewa.htm   descent. He was born in 1943 at M’Chigeeng First Nation (West Bay) on Manitoulin Island in Lake Huron. As a child he was sent to a  residential schoolA system of schools opened in Canada in the 19th and 20th centuries for Aboriginal children. The primary goal of these schools was to assimilate the children into the non-native cultural system. For more information, go to: The Canadian Residential School System at Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_residential_school_system A Lost Heritage: Canada’s Residential Schools: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_residential_school_system Residential Schools at the Canadian Encyclopedia: http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0011547 The Indian Residential School Survivors Society: http://www.irsss.ca/   in Spanish, Ontario, a small town on the North Channel shore of Lake Huron. It was an unpleasant experience that he referenced in only one small artwork based on a class photo in which he outlined his image in red ink.

Beam studied art at the Kootenay School of Art at Selkirk College, and received his Bachelor of Fine Art degree from the University of Victoria in 1974. He also did post-graduate work at the University of Alberta.

Anasazi Bowl

During his career Beam worked in a range of media, including large format drawings, watercolours, etchings, photographs, installations and ceramics. In the early 1980s he and his wife Ann lived in New Mexico and Arizona, learning about the ancient Anasazi earthenware style(like that seen here) and the techniques and materials used by the Pueblo Indians in their pottery making. The Beams excitedly explored the possibilities offered for creating hand-made  ceramicPottery or hollow clay sculpture fired at high temperatures in a kiln or oven to make them harder and stronger. Types include earthenware, porcelain, stoneware, and terra cotta. (Artlex.com)  works from locally sourced, natural materials. The act of pottery making reflected their personal view that respect for nature was of the utmost importance.

In 1990 they returned to Manitoulin Island where they built an adobe house, a simple, thermally-efficient structure constructed from materials on-site. The house was a reflection of Beam’s interest in sustainable living. He delighted in telling people how well it survived Northern Ontario’s harsh winters.

Beam received the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts in 2005, just months before he died. His work has been exhibited throughout North America and in Italy, Denmark, Germany and China. In 1986 the National Gallery of Canada purchased his  paintingWorks of art made with paint on a surface. Often the surface, also called a support, is either a tightly stretched piece of canvas or a panel. How the ground (on which paint is applied) is prepared on the support depends greatly on the type of paint to be used. Paintings are usually intended to be placed in frames, and exhibited on walls, but there have been plenty of exceptions. Also, the act of painting, which may involve a wide range of techniques and materials, along with the artist's other concerns which effect the content of a work. (Artlex.com)  The North American Iceberg, the first Native artwork the gallery purchased as a piece of  contemporaryCurrent, belonging to the same period of time. Usually referring to our present time, but can refer to being current with any specified time. (Artlex.com)  art rather than as  ethnographicPertaining to ethnography, which is that branch of knowledge which has for its subject the characteristics of the human family, developing the details with which ethnology as a comparative science deals; descriptive ethnology. (The Online Plain Text English Dictionary)  art. It was a notable event that marked the movement of Aboriginal art from the margin into the mainstream.


Canadian Heritage University of Regina Mackenzie Art Gallery Mendel Art Gallery Sask Learning