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Big One and the Bad Medicine Woman
woman artist, Aboriginal artist, screen print, woodland print,Picasso influenced,universal theme,human sufferin, relationships, culture, surrealism, cubism, dance, ritual, spirituality, family, erotic,women, men,codes of behavior, figurative, curvilinear,rhythmic line,motif, cycle, circle, self-taught artist, Objibwa
description

Odjig’s works deal with a variety of universal themes, including human suffering, relationships, culture, spirituality and the importance of family. Her work has developed a unique mixture of western styles – such as  CubismOne of the most influential art movements (1907-1914) of the twentieth century, Cubism was begun by Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1882-1973) and Georges Braque (French, 1882-1963) in 1907. They were greatly inspired by African sculpture, by painters Paul Cézanne (French, 1839-1906) and Georges Seurat (French, 1859-1891), and by the Fauves. (Artlex.com)  and  SurrealismAn art movement in the early 20th century based on dreams, and the subconscious, and the distortion of representations.  – with a native worldview to express these themes.

The curved arch and circle are central motifs of Odjig’s work, enclosing her figures and signifying completion and perfection to the Ojibwa people. The circle is also  symbolicAn image that stands for something else to convey meaning and information in an art work.  of women in Ojibwa culture. Undulating, rhythmic lines, enclosing figures made with strong, vibrant colours, characterize her images.
 
Big One and the Bad Medicine Woman (Images with Smoke), from the MacKenzie Art Gallery collection, is one of the Tales from the Smokehouse images she created between 1969 and 1974. Dr. Herbert Schwartz, a medical doctor employed on the Distant Early Warning line in northern Canada, collected erotic stories in Native communities across the country and invited Odjig to illustrate these stories. She created explicit sexual and erotic images in relation to the central message of each story.

start quoteSometimes I sit there and think about our natives and I feel sad but I brush it off, and I go in and start to paint again. I'm an optimist. That's an Indian characteristic. I feel the Indians will be proud again.end quote
-- Daphne Odjig

In Big One and the Bad Medicine Woman (Images with Smoke) Odjig presents a male perspective about the definition and control of male power through the penis. The vagina of the bad medicine woman is lined with teeth capable of depriving unfaithful men of their power, and by extension, their lives.  Two  backgroundPart of the picture plane that seems to be farthest from the viewer.  figures behind the woman – like the neighbours/voyeurs who are always watching what you are doing - represent acceptable codes of values and behaviours in the community.

“People were shocked at the time, although things have changed now,” Odjig said in a March, 2008 interview. “The Native community was the least shocked of all, though. We were brought up as children to accept these things. Sexual matters were a part of life.” (Goddard, 2008)

additional resources Things to Think About

"I see my paintings as a celebration of life. My subconscious mind may well dictate some content and I’m content to leave it at that. I am uncomfortable with words – my paintings are perhaps my most honest and legitimate statement." Daphne Odjig, (back cover of Odjig)

  • Fellow artist Norval Morriseau nicknamed Odjig “Picasso’s grandmother”. View some of Pablo Picasso’s work and see if you can recognize Picasso’s influence in her work.  Go to the following websites to get started:
Advanced Activity

Psychology in art

 

Visual art and dance

Use Odjig’s artwork to inspire a dance sequence

Colourful dancer

The  shapeAn element of art, it is an enclosed space defined and determined by other art elements such as line, colour, value, and texture. In painting and drawing, shapes may take on the appearance of a solid three-dimensional object even though they are limited to two dimensions — length and width. This two-dimensional character of shape distinguishes it from form, which has depth as well as length and width. Examples of shapes include: circle, oval, and oblong; polygons such as triangle, square, rectangle, rhombus, trapezium, trapezoid, pentagon, hexagon, heptagon, octagon, nonagon, decagon, undecagon, dodecagon, etc.; and such other kinds of shapes as amorphous, biomorphous, and concretion. (Artlex.com)  formed by the  figure1.  The form of a human, an animal or a thing; most often referring to an entire human form.  2.  A person of note (i.e., an important figure in history...)  in Odjig’s artwork Big One and the Bad Medicine Woman suggests dance. Recreate this  shapeAn element of art, it is an enclosed space defined and determined by other art elements such as line, colour, value, and texture. In painting and drawing, shapes may take on the appearance of a solid three-dimensional object even though they are limited to two dimensions — length and width. This two-dimensional character of shape distinguishes it from form, which has depth as well as length and width. Examples of shapes include: circle, oval, and oblong; polygons such as triangle, square, rectangle, rhombus, trapezium, trapezoid, pentagon, hexagon, heptagon, octagon, nonagon, decagon, undecagon, dodecagon, etc.; and such other kinds of shapes as amorphous, biomorphous, and concretion. (Artlex.com)  with your body. 

Advanced Activity

Art history activities

Background and meaning

Norval Morrisseau described Daphne Odjig as Picasso’s grandmother, although her  styleA way of doing something. Use of materials, methods of working, design qualities and choice of subject matter reflect the style of the individual, culture, movement, or time period.  of art making leans strongly towards  the Woodland School of Art.  “The Woodland School style has several characteristics including a predominant black form line, an undifferentiated background, pure colours, x-ray perspectives, and a system of interconnecting lines known as linear determinatives that indicate sacred power. The overall effect produces a bright vivid image similar in some ways to stained glass. The Woodland School has become one of the most recognizable forms of  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   art.”  (McMichael Gallery web site: Woodland Exhibition, May, 2008)

patternOdjig has incorporated and mingled  influences from her own interior unconscious thoughts and First Nations teaching.  She may have seen Potowatami beadwork similar to the beadwork seen at left when she was growing up. She was also drawn to European  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)  styles of  Cubism,  SurrealismAn art movement in the early 20th century based on dreams, and the subconscious, and the distortion of representations.  and the flat bright colours of Matisse.  For more information on Matisse, go to:

Look carefully at the image Big One and the Bad Medicine Woman.  Using the Zoom tool, decide which of the influences listed described above are incorporated into this piece.

Odjig struggled with a dual heritage, identity issues and life conflicts in many of her paintings and prints around the time that she made Big One and the Bad Medicine Woman.

  • What conflicts or dualities do you think this image represents?
  • Can you detect a second identity in the piece, if so, where is it?  Describe what it looks like?

Read biographical material about Odjig and her work on the following web sites.

Consider Odjig’s achievements and contribution to Canadian art.

Online Activity
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Create a  designA plan, or to plan. The organization or composition of a work; the skilled arrangement of its parts. An effective design is one in which the elements of art and principles of design have been combined to achieve an overall sense of unity. Also [applied design], the production of attractive and well crafted functional objects. Subcategories of the design arts include: architecture, bonsai, fashion design, furniture design, graphic design, ikebana, industrial design, interior design, landscape architecture, stagecraft, textile design, and Web page design. (Artlex.com)  that refers to Daphne Odjig’s influences.  The influences include First Nations Woodland Art, Picasso, and Matisse.

You can try out more ideas for designs at the following sites.

Studio Activity

Space and form

The work Big One and the Bad Medicine Woman (Images with Smoke), by Odjig, conveys a sense of movement and animation. Studying and working with some of the formal themes she has used in her work helps us to understand how she achieved this.

Look at Big One and the Bad Medicine Woman (Images with Smoke) and identify the following in it:

  • curvilinear shapes
  • sharp angles
  • black defining lines
  • interconnecting lines

 

Learn to draw accurately by  drawingDepiction of shapes and forms on a surface chiefly by means of lines. Colour and shading may be included. A major fine art technique in itself, drawing is the basis of all pictorial representation, and an early step in most art activities. Though an integral part of most painting, drawing is generally differentiated from painting by the dominance of line over mass. There are many sorts of drawing techniques, varying according to the effect the artist wants, and depending on whether the drawing is an end in itself — an independent and finished work of art -- or a preliminary to some other medium or form — although distinct from the final product, such drawings also have intrinsic artistic value. Preliminary drawings include various exercises (e.g., contour drawing, gesture drawing, figure drawing, drawing from the flat), as well as sketches and studies, cartoons and underdrawings. (Artlex.com)  negative shapes

  • Start with the negative space  that surrounds the image.

 

Now create a design in the style of Daphne Odjig’s artwork

  • You might also choose to create your design in the form of a figure as Odjig does.
  • Ask yourself if Odjig’s work suggests dance.
  • Here are some starting ideas for creating a figure in action:

Basketball player


  • Think about an athletic pose such as shooting a basketball or gymnastic tumbling
  • think about a favourite dance shape
  • imagine turning around or reaching up

 

 

Begin with a planning  sketchA rough or unfinished visual composition, usually to assist in the completion of a more elaborate version.  using pencil on scrap paper. Then decide on a  colourProduced by light of various wavelengths, and when light strikes an object and reflects back to the eyes. Colour is an element of art with three properties: (1) hue or tint, the colour name, e.g., red, yellow, blue, etc.: (2) intensity, the purity and strength of a colour, e.g., bright red or dull red; and (3) value, the lightness or darkness of a colour. When the spectrum is organized as a color wheel, the colours are divided into groups called primary, secondary and intermediate (or tertiary) colours; analogous and complementary, and also as warm and cool colours. Colours can be objectively described as saturated, clear, cool, warm, deep, subdued, grayed, tawny, mat, glossy, monochrome, multicolored, particolored, variegated, or polychromed. Some words used to describe colours are more subjective (subject to personal opinion or taste), such as: exciting, sweet, saccharine, brash, garish, ugly, beautiful, cute, fashionable, pretty, and sublime. Sometimes people speak of colours when they are actually refering to pigments, what they are made of (various natural or synthetic substances), their relative permanence, etc. (Artlex.com)  scheme. Try using only two or three pure colours, or just using black and white.

selecting materials

Include in your design:

  • curvilinear shapes in a variety of sizes and clean cut lines.

For more information on Odjig’s influences and ideas, see the Advanced Activity section for this artist.

For activities on  contentThe subject matter of a work of art and what it suggests about that subject matter. This includes the ways in which that work of art can be plausibly interpreted.  and dance go to the Advanced Activity.

References

Author unknown.  ‘Civilization Museum Honors Daphne Odjig’s Art.’  HULIQ.com.  Retrieved from the Internet on June 10, 2008 from:  http://www.huliq.com/51151/civilization-museum-honors-daphne-odjig039s-art.

Author unknown.  ‘Daphne Odjig.’  Native Online.  Retrieved from the Internet on June 10, 2008 from:  http://www.nativeonline.com/daphne_odjig.htm.

Author unknown.  ‘Daphne Odjig.’  Whetung Ojibwa Centre.  Retrieved from the Internet on June 10, 2008 from:  http://www.whetung.com/odjig.html

Bailey, Jann L.M.  ‘Daphne Odjig – Essay.’  The Governor General’s Award in Visual and  MediaAny material and technique used to produce a work of art (paint, glass, clay, fibre, video, sound, etc.). It may also refer to the liquid with which powdered pigments are mixed to make paint. Note that the plural form of “medium” is “media.”  Arts, The Canada Council for the Arts, 2007.  Retrieved from the Internet on June 10, 2008 from:  http://www.canadacouncil.ca/prizes/ggavma/2007/kc128182835977597792.htm.

Bailey, Jann L. M.  Foreword to Daphne Odjig: Four Decades of Prints.  Exhibition catalogue. Kamloops Art Gallery, Kamloops, British Columbia, 2005.

Fry, Jacqueline.  Treaty Numbers 23, 287, 1171: Three Indian Painters of the Prairies.  Exhibition catalogue.  Winnipeg Art Gallery, Winnipeg, Manitoba, 1972.

Goddard, Peter.  ‘Family feeling.’  The Toronto Star, March 15, 2008.

Keeptwo, Suzanne.  ‘Odjig exhibit a statement of identity.’  Wind Speaker, April 2008.

Kritzwiser, Kay.  ‘The pendulum and the paintbrush:  RetrospectiveAn exhibition of work by a senior artist representing all the stages of the artist’s career.  reveals changing expressions in Daphne Odjig’s art.’  Toronto Globe and Mail, December 13, 1985.

Leigh, Brandi.  ‘Daphne Odjig: Dreaming of Manitoulin.’  The Art History ArchiveCanadian, November, 2007.  Retrieved from the Internet on June 10, 2008 from:  http://www.arthistoryarchive.com/arthistory/canadian/Daphne-Odjig.html.

Martin, Lee-Ann (with Morgan Wood).  Exposed:  AestheticsThe branch of philosophy that deals with the nature and value of art objects and experiences. It is concerned with identifying the clues within works that can be used to understand, judge, and defend judgments about those works. Originally, any activity connected with art, beauty and taste, becoming more broadly the study of art's function, nature, purpose, and so on. (Artlex.com)  of Aboriginal Erotic Art.  Exhibition catalogue.  MacKenzie Art Gallery, Regina, Saskatchewan, 1999.

Newlands, Anne.  Canadian art: from its Beginnings to 2000.  Willowdale, Ontario:  Firefly Books, 2000.

Odjig, Daphne. A Paintbrush in My Hand.  Toronto, Ontario:  Natural Heritage Books, 1992.

Podedworny, Carol, and Bob Boyer.  Odjig: The Art of Daphne Odjig 1960-2000.  Toronto, Ontario:  Key Porter Books, 2001.

Reid, Dennis.  A Concise History of Canadian Painting, Second Edition.  Toronto, Ontario:  Oxford University Press, 1988.

Tippett, Maria.  By A Lady: Celebrating Three Centuries of Art by Canadian Women.  Toronto, Ontario:  Viking Press, 1992.

Vanderburgh, Rosamund M.  ‘Odjig, Daphne.’  The Canadian Encyclopedia, Retrieved from the Internet on June 10, 2008 from:  http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0005883.

Vedan, Barbara Newton.  ‘Daphne Odjig.’  Arts West, November-December, 1978.

Wood, Morgan.  ‘Daphne Odjig,’ essay in Daphne Odjig: Four Decades of Prints.  Exhibition catalogue.  Kamloops Art Gallery, Kamloops, British Columbia, 2005.

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