Sheila Orr

About the Artist

Sheila Orr is a  multi-mediaIn personal computing, software and applications that combine text, high quality sound, graphics, and animation or video. (  artist who incorporates ideas and traditions from her cultural heritage of Cree, Scottish and  InuitInuit means “the people” in Inukititut, the language of the people of northern Canada. Go to for further information.  into her artistic practice. She was born in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan and grew up in Chisasibi, Quebec.  She returned to Saskatchewan at the age of 16 to attend classes at the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College (now the First Nations University of Canada) in Regina, Saskatchewan.

While living in Regina, Orr received her Fine Arts Degree from the First Nations University of Canada, where she also taught and served as chair of the Art Department. She is a graduate of the University or Regina, Faculty of Education, Arts Education program as a Visual Arts Major. In addition, Orr consulted for Saskatchewan Learning (now the Ministry of Education) while she continued her studio practice. In 2007, she was living in Northern Saskatchewan.

Orr easily moves among multiple mediums and materials, styles and practices. She is an apt painter in  oilsSlow-drying paint made when pigments are mixed with an oil, linseed oil being most traditional. The oil dries with a hard film, and the brightness of the colours is protected. Oil paints are usually opaque and traditionally used on canvas. They can have a matte, semi-gloss, or glossy finish. To look at examples of works in oil paints, see the articles under the names of every period from the Renaissance onward. (  and acrylic. She is also a skilled craftsperson who can blend traditional beadwork and quillwork into her art-making practice.   “In all of Sheila Orr’s work, past folds into present, the traditional intertwines with the  contemporaryCurrent, belonging to the same period of time. Usually referring to our present time, but can refer to being current with any specified time. (  and the individual both calls and answers the community.” (Anderson, 2000)

In the  installationAn art work specially designed to fit in or to make use of a specific type of space. It usually consists of more than one element and relates to the space in which it is displayed.  Eve (presented here on the ARTSask website), we see Orr is also comfortable creating an installation of  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. (  objects to produce a poignant snapshot or  narrativeRelating to the telling of a story, or the telling of events, etc.  of a childhood memory. Jack Anderson comments, “Indeed all her work is autobiographical in nature; constructed from personal history, memories and desires“ (Anderson, 2000)

Orr is known to have a sharp wit and a keen sense of humour and she uses these to gently or provocatively state her social, cultural and political commentary.  “Instead of adopting an overly revisionist position in order to challenge widespread cultural problems related to colonial history, political and economic imbalances or racism, Orr strategically addresses these very issues through anecdotal and often humorous personal history.” (Anderson, 2000)


Assemblage - Sheila Orr’s Eve
Canadian Heritage University of Regina Mackenzie Art Gallery Mendel Art Gallery Sask Learning