Ron Noganosh

About the Artist

In his work, Ron Noganosh mixes sly, irreverent humour with a deep concern for the complex problems shared by many communities around the world.  He addresses many of these issues – environment, poverty, culture, language and identity - in the  contextThe varied circumstances in which a work of art is (or was) produced and interpreted. There are three arenas to these circumstances, each of them highly complex. The first pertains to the artist: attitudes, beliefs, interests, values, intentions and purposes, education and training, and biography (including psychology). The second is the setting in which the work was produced: the apparent function of the work (to adorn, beautify, express, illustrate, mediate, persuade, record, redefine reality, or redefine art), religious and philosophical convictions, sociopolitical and economic structures, and even climate and geography. Third is the field of the work's reception and interpretation: the traditions it is intended to serve, the mind-set it adheres to (ritualistic, perceptual, rational, and emotive), and, perhaps most importantly, the colour of the lenses through which the work is being scrutinized — i.e., the interpretive mode (artistic biography, psychological approaches, political criticism, feminism, cultural history, intellectual history, formalism, structuralism, semiotics, hermeneutics, post-structuralism and deconstruction, reception theory, concepts of periodicity [stylistic pendulum swinging], and other chronological and contextual considerations. Context is much more than the matter of the artist's circumstances alone. (Artlex.com)  of present-day  First NationsFirst Nations is a contemporary term referring to the Indian peoples of Canada, both status and non-status (definition from Indian and Northern Affairs Canada). To find out more about Canada’s First Nations, go to: Assembly of First Nations: http://www.afn.ca/ Village of First Nations: http://www.firstnations.com/ Canada’s First Nations: http://www.ucalgary.ca/applied_history/tutor/firstnations/ Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Nations   communities.

His humourous, but at the same time provocative, approach is illustrated in his description of himself in the artist file held at the department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada.

“Upon completing a  graphic designArt — design — mostly for commercial purposes — for such things as logos, letterheads, packages, advertisements, poster, signage, books, Web pages, and other publications. (artlex.com)  course in Toronto in 1970,” he wrote, “I was officially declared an ARTIST, and let loose upon an unsuspecting world. Thereafter I obtained gainful employment in diverse occupations ranging from car washer to screen washer and discovered that jobs for CIVILIZED INDIAN ARTISTS are not profuse.”

Noganosh is Ojibwe, born and raised on  reservesAn Indian reserve is specified by the Indian Act as a "tract of land, the legal title to which is vested in Her Majesty, that has been set apart by Her Majesty for the use and benefit of a band." To find out more about reserves in Canada, go to: Indian Reserves Western Canada   near Parry Sound, Ontario.  He attended school in several communities and dropped out of secondary school in 1963 when his mother died.  He later returned to school and obtained a diploma in welding in 1968, which sustained him in his early work as an artist, and later became a useful skill in his sculptural works.

Besides being a welder, Noganosh worked as a miner, dishwasher, trucker, silk screener, trapper, and even an alligator wrestler, to help pay the bills.  In fact, he returned to the same school where he had trained to be a welder in order to study graphic design.  For a few years he produced realistic wildlife prints to make ends meet, before entering the Visual Arts program at the University of Ottawa.

His studies opened up for him a new world of ecological, political, and social issues that have become a mainstay of his artistic practice.  After he graduated he began teaching art at a junior college in Hull, Quebec.  At the same time he began to create sculptures using  foundAn image, material, or object, not originally intended as a work of art, that is obtained, selected, and exhibited by an artist, often without being altered in any way. The cubists, dadaists, and surrealists originated the use of found images / materials / objects. Although it can be either a natural or manufactured image / material / object, the term readymade refers only to those which were manufactured. Also known in the French, objet trouvé. (Artlex.com)  objects, exploring the political, economic, and social issues that people face.  “Perhaps I am becoming a MYSTICAL CIVILIZED INDIAN ARTIST … say the reviewers,” Noganosh notes in the same cheeky tone he used above.  While he draws on his Native heritage in his works, Noganosh clearly does not want to be stereotyped as an  First NationsFirst Nations is a contemporary term referring to the Indian peoples of Canada, both status and non-status (definition from Indian and Northern Affairs Canada). To find out more about Canada’s First Nations, go to: Assembly of First Nations: http://www.afn.ca/ Village of First Nations: http://www.firstnations.com/ Canada’s First Nations: http://www.ucalgary.ca/applied_history/tutor/firstnations/ Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Nations   artist.


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