Skip to Content

Art Gallery of Ontario

Keyword Site Search

Art Matters Blog

A big reveal

June 25th, 2018

A stone carving of human figures by Abraham Anghik Ruben.

Abraham Anghik Ruben. The Hunter and the Seamstress, 2001. Stone, 204.1 kg, 105.4 × 62.2 cm © Abraham Anghik Ruben AGO.119039

Join us on July 1st as we celebrate the re-opening of the J. S. McLean Centre for Indigenous & Canadian Art with music and artful conversation.

The Centre, which closed in March, is now renovated, reinstalled and renamed, as part of our Gallery-wide Look:Forward project. Located on Level 2 of the AGO, it features over 75 works by Indigenous and Canadian artists, including groundbreaking art by contemporary Indigenous artists. The Centre is organized thematically, with spaces devoted to exploring origin stories, issues of land and water, how we construct our sense of self and how artists engage with the spirit. Designed to spark conversations between artists and across time, these thematic groupings live alongside dedicated exhibition spaces for Indigenous artists, as well as a focus gallery where the photographic work of June Clark is now highlighted.

In recognition that the AGO is located on Mississauga Anishinaabe territory, all texts in the McLean Centre are trilingual – in Anishnaabemowin, English and French. The Inuit collection will feature texts in Inuktitut, along with English and French.

The Centre also has a new entrance located at the top of the scissor stairs, just opposite the elevator and features a stunning presentation of Inuit sculptures by artists and brothers David Ruben Piqtoukun (born 1950) and Abraham Anghik Ruben (born 1951).

Both residential school survivors, Anghik Ruben introduced Piqtoukun to carving in the 1970s, and since then both have become highly celebrated artists. Working with a variety of materials to interpret traditional stories, their lyrical works honour their ancestry and traditional knowledge. Extended labels in Inuktitut, English and French feature quotes from the artists.

A stone carving by David Ruben Piqtoukun from 1995.

David Ruben Piqtoukun. Guidepost, 1995. Limestone, Brazilian soapstone, slate, Overall (base: 104.6 x 635. X 36.8 cm): 94.5 x 61 x 14.5 cm. Gift of Samuel and Esther Sarick, Toronto, 2001 © David Ruben Piqtoukun 2001/412

To celebrate the Centre’s re-opening, join us on Canada Day, Sunday July 1 at 2 p.m. in Walker Court, as we gather under Robert Houle’s installation Seven Grandfathers (2014).  The celebration kicks off with opening remarks by Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation elder Garry Sault, a short performance by the Spirit Wind Women’s Hand Drum Group and an introduction by Wanda Nanibush, AGO Curator of Indigenous Art, and Georgiana Uhlyarik, Fredrik S. Eaton Curator of Canadian Art. Then head upstairs to Level 2 where Cree musician and playwright Cliff Cardinal and Anishinaabe musician and artist Dave Deleary will perform.

The Centre is included in General Admission and AGO Members see our collection for free. The AGO is open every day this long weekend, with special hours on Sunday, July 1 and Monday, July 2 from 10:30 am to 4 pm.

And on July 7, #AGO1st celebrates Indigenous storytelling and the opening of the new McLean Centre with Resurgent Homelands. Don’t miss it!

Are you an AGOinsider yet? If not, sign up to have stories like these delivered straight to your inbox every week.

The installation of the AGO’s Indigenous & Canadian Collection is generously supported by
Andrew & Marianne Guizzetti
Robert Harding & Angel Yang
The McLean Foundation

Comments are closed.