Rebecca Belmore

About the Artist

Rebecca Belmore was born in Upsala, a small community in northwestern Ontario. After completing high school in the nearby city of Thunder Bay, Ontario, Belmore attended the Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto, Ontario from 1984 to 1987.

In 1993 Belmore moved from Toronto back to her family’s home territory in the Sioux Lookout area of Ontario. It marked the beginning of an intense search by Belmore to gather knowledge of the land, the language and the history of the  Anishinabe“People” in Ojibway/Ojibwe (also called Chippewa). Along with the Cree, the Ojibwe are one of the most populous and widely distributed 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   people that she felt she’d missed.

Belmore is internationally recognized for her work, which draws on her Anishinabe heritage, and addresses ideas about Aboriginal history, place, identity and justice through sculpture, installation, video and performance. Her works are influenced by her indignation and sense of injustice about acts of violence, from the disappearance of women in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, British Columbia, to the massacre of Indian women and children at Wounded Knee, South Dakota.

In 2005 Belmore was chosen to serve as Canada’s official representative at the Venice Biennale of Visual Art, the first Aboriginal woman to do so. The Venice Biennale is the world’s oldest and most prestigious international exhibition 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.

Belmore’s work is very political and her art practice is experiential. Belmore works hard to engage viewers as participants, which she does through the multi-dimensional experiences she creates.

“My way of working is largely based on immediate experience,” Belmore wrote in an  Artist StatementA commentary by an artist on an artwork, and exhibition, belief system, or any other topic.  for a Canada Council news release. “The performances I have created over the years often directly responded to the place in which I found myself. Location and memory are key elements in my approach to making art. I have always had a strong interest in trying to imagine where we have been.” (Belmore, 2004)

In the same statement Belmore also spoke about her Aboriginal heritage, and how it helps to shape her sense of mission as an artist. “I believe I am just beginning to understand my role, particularly as an artist who has inherited an  indigenousNative; produced, growing, or living, naturally in a country or climate; not exotic; not imported. (The Online Plain Text English Dictionary)  history.”


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