George Littlechild


1958

My art speaks from the heart...it is charged with energy and colour; it is vibrant and magical, thus enabling the soul to travel.  I envision.  I rely on the intuitive, the spiritual, the emotional.(George Littlechild, The Multifaith Calendar, 2008).

Known for creating culturally rich imagery and his use of high-chroma color, George Littlechild is recognized as one of the foremost First Nations artists working in Canada today, descended from Plains Cree and Irish/Scottish lineages.

Littlechild's interest in his heritage has led to explorations of not only his own past, but also many socio-political issues related to his people, including the Reserve system and Residential schooling.  He has a keen interest in Pan-American issues.  His images, based upon his own roots and well-known personalities like Canada’s aboriginal poet Pauline Johnson or Kootenay Brown (an early resident of Waterton Lakes National Park), are a blend of digitally manipulated photographs and paintings. His subjects are placed in historical contexts that portray racial interaction, and the differences and similarities of the human condition.  He challenges us to understand the complexity, past and present, experienced by people of mixed Caucasian and First Nations ancestry.  George directs his art to those who want to understand First Nations culture in an attempt to alleviate prejudice and naiveté.  More importantly, he hopes his work contributes to stopping racism, which he feels is one of the most destructive forces of our modern society.  While Littlechild's earlier works evoke strong messages for healing, his later works are paths that stimulate introspection — who we are, why we are, how we came to be the spirits that we own.  A doorway opening to mystery and wonder, Littlechild invites us to simply step inside, celebrate and explore.

Littlechild is also an educator.  He lectures at both the university level and adult art workshops, and in art programs at elementary and secondary schools.  He teaches Fine Arts classes for ECIAD at North Island College.  He is always willing to talk about art and life with children; they hold a special meaning for George.  Heritage, pride, and the need to understand and celebrate the unique person that each of us is born to be - this is Littlechild's gift back to humankind.  His work transcends the boundaries of First Nations art practice: Littlechild believes that each of us must know our past to experience the fullness of our future.

He knew from a young age that he had a special talent as an artist to share with the world.  His mother, Rachel Littlechild, was a Plains Cree member of the Erminskin Reserve in Hobbema, and his father, James E. Price, was of Scottish/Micmac extraction from New Brunswick.  From the age of five until he was eighteen, George Littlechild lived with his foster mother, Mrs. Winnie Olthius.  She was a very caring person and was largely responsible for nurturing his artistic and creative abilities.  As a youngster, she sent him to art lessons, encouraged him to pursue his art throughout his school years, and insisted he go to Art College.  His post-secondary educational achievements include a diploma in Art and Design from Red Deer College, a Bachelor of Fine Arts (1988) from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax, and independent study at the Banff Centre.

George has more than 26 solo exhibitions to his credit in Canada, the United States, Japan and Germany.  He has illustrated and/or authored seven books, including the award winning publication This Land Is My Land.  He has received awards as a mentor and role model, including VADA and Canada Council.

Selected Private and Public Collections: Alberta Foundation for the Arts; Alberta Indian Arts and Crafts Society, Edmonton, Alberta; Banff Centre for the Arts, Banff, Alberta; Canadian Museum of Civilization, Hull, Quebec; Dunlop Art Gallery, Regina, Saskatchewan; Edmonton Art Gallery, Edmonton; Esso Emerging Artists Collections, Calgary, Alberta; Native Business Venture Capital, Edmonton; Surrey Art Gallery, Surrey, British Columbia; Thunder Bay Art Gallery, Thunder Bay, Ontario; Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario; University of Alberta, Edmonton.