Recorders and Keepers

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Sun Walking - Blackfoot
Portrait of
portraiture, portraits in oil of Aboriginal leaders, 1924 - 1930, commissions, commissioning a series of portraits, donating artwork, portraits of First Nations people, artist work to understand context, traditional approach to portrait painting, oil painting, portrait, portraiture, oil paint, commissioned portraits, character studies, Firs Nations reserves, respectfulness, mood, capturing mood in portrait painting
description

Between 1924 and 1930 Henderson created 12 portraits of Northern Blackfoot, Piegan, Blood, Stoney, Sioux and  CreeThe largest group of First Nations in Canada, and part of the Algonquian language family. See the Canadian Encyclopedia for more information: http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0002005   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   leaders. The University of Saskatchewan originally  commissionedA contract between an artist and an individual. The artist agrees to create an image or design for the individual for a predetermined price.  the portraits, although it appears other collectors purchased many of them after they were completed. Chaski, for example, was painted in 1925 and eventually was donated to the Mendel Art Gallery by the daughter of Walter Murray, who was President of the University of Saskatchewan in the 1920s. Sun Walking - Blackfoot was painted later, in 1945.

Henderson did not just paint portraits 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   people. Instead, he made a serious study of the character of the people, spending much time with them on their reserves. As is mentioned in the About the artist section on Henderson, the people of the Standing Buffalo First Nation near Henderson's home responded to his respectful interest by naming Henderson an honourary chief.

The two portraits presented within the ARTSask Recorders and Keepers theme – Sun Walking and Chaski – are from the Mendel Art Gallery collection. They illustrate Henderson’s traditional approach to  portraitA work of art that represents a specific person, a group of people, or an animal. Portraits usually show what a person looks like as well as revealing something about the subject's personality. Portraits can be made of any sculptural material or in any two-dimensional medium. Portraiture is the field of portrait making and portraits in general. Portrait is a term that may also refer simply to a vertically-oriented rectangle, just as a horizontally-oriented one may be said to be oriented the landscape way. (Artlex.com)  painting. Whether you interpret the mood and presence of the men portrayed as comtemplative, defiant, proud, melancholy or wistful, there is an inherent dignity that Henderson has captured in his portraits.

additional resources Things to Think About
  • The people of Standing Buffalo First Nation chose to name Henderson “the man who paints the old men” – meaning he paints the Elders. What do you think might be the significance of giving Henderson this name?
Online Activity
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Match the picture frame style to the image and personality depicted.  To do this, click on and drag the images into the frames you think match!

Studio Activity

Create a mixed-media  sculptureA three-dimensional work of art, or the art of making it. Such works may be carved, modeled, constructed, or cast. Sculptures can also be described as assemblage, in the round, and relief, and made in a huge variety of media. A sculptor is one who creates sculptures. (artlex.com)  and  portraitA work of art that represents a specific person, a group of people, or an animal. Portraits usually show what a person looks like as well as revealing something about the subject's personality. Portraits can be made of any sculptural material or in any two-dimensional medium. Portraiture is the field of portrait making and portraits in general. Portrait is a term that may also refer simply to a vertically-oriented rectangle, just as a horizontally-oriented one may be said to be oriented the landscape way. (Artlex.com)  based on someone you think of as a hero

Sculpture

  • Choose the person on whom the work will be based. It can be someone who is close to you, a historical figure, or someone who is in the news.
  • In a journal record your thoughts, research, and inquires about that person’s life and personality. You may look at pictures and read through historical documents, or you may take pictures and conduct interviews depending on who your  subjectA topic or idea represented in an art work.  is. Think about the qualities that make this person special.
  • Paint a portrait of your hero on paper. Use a combination of the studies you made, photographs, your own memory, and descriptions to create the portrait.
  • When you have finished, cut out the portrait.
  • Glue or staple a paper or cardboard backing to the wood frame.

Sculpture 2

  • Fill the wood frame with an selection of hand-made and collected objects that reflect this person’s life and personality. For example, if the person you choose is your grandmother think about what she does and who she is.
  • Is she a gardener? If so, you might place handmade or artificial flowers, or seeds from her garden in the frame.
  • Does she like to play games or cards? If so, you could add games pieces or cards to represent this.
  • Does she like music or play an instrument? If so, you could add a miniature instruments or use sheet music.
  • Attach all these objects to the inside, the backing, the sides, and the outside front of the wood frame. Overlap the objects so that they look layered. You might think of the layering as a timeline of sorts.
References

Author unknown.  ‘Famous Artist Passes Away.’  Fort Qu’Appelle Times, July 19, 1951.

Author unknown.  James Henderson 1871-1951. Exhibition catalogue.  Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, 1969.

Belton, Robert J. Sights of Resistance: Approaches to Canadian Visual Culture.  Calgary, Alberta:  University of Calgary Press, 2001.

Colgate, William. Canadian Art: Its Origin and Development.  Toronto, Ontario: Ryerson Press, 1943.

Francis, R. Douglas. Images of the West: Responses to the Canadian Prairies.  Saskatoon, Saskatchewan:  Western Producer Prairie Books, 1989.

Hayworth, Arthur.  ‘James Henderson of the Qu’Appelle Valley.’  Saskatchewan History, Spring, 1958.

Lanigan, James W.  ‘Henderson, James.’  Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan.  Retrieved from the Internet on May 1, 2008 from:  http://esask.uregina.ca/entry.henderson_james_1871-1951.html

Newman, Marketa, ed.  Biographical Dictionary of Saskatchewan Artists, Men Artists.  Saskatoon, Saskatchewan:  Fifth House Publishers, 1994.

Silversides, Brock V. The Face Pullers. Fifth House Publishers, Saskatoon, 1994.

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