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The Canada Council Art Bank Acquires Work by Alumnus Sonny Assu

Sonny Assu Image Trevor Brady X 800

By Roxanne Toronto

Posted on June 13, 2016 | Updated August 06, 2019, 9:06AM

Assu's work is one of seven contemporary Indigenous art acquisitions.

The Canada Council Art Bank has acquired seven works by leading Indigenous artists in Canada. This is the first major acquisition by the Art Bank in over two years, and features emerging and established Indigenous artists. The pieces were selected following consultations with the members of the artistic community led by the Art Bank staff. The works – and their addition to the Art Bank collection speak to the Council's commitment to Indigenous arts and {Re}conciliation.

Sonny Assu’s ('02) archival pigment print on paper Selective History (2012) critiques the use of historically oppressive language by the Canadian government to proliferate the notion of the “Indian Problem.”

Assu Selective History  Image Brandon Clarida

Selected artists and works include:

  • Barry Ace, For King and Country (2015), Manitoulin, Ont. (M'Chigeeng), currently residing in Ottawa
  • Sonny Assu, Selective History (2012), Laich-kwil-tach of the Wei Wai Kai First Nation - Cape Mudge, B.C., currently residing in South Surrey, BC
  • Jordan Bennett, Why Are Native Americans (2012), Stephenville Crossing, N.L. (Mi'kmaq), currently residing in Kelowna, BC
  • Dana Claxton, Headdress (2016), Lakota First Nations-Wood Mountain reserve, Sask., currently residing in Vancouver
  • Amy Malbeuf, The Mealy Mountains and Three Artists Fly North (2013), Rich Lake, Alta. (Métis) currently residing in Kelowna, BC
  • Adrian Stimson, Shaman Exterminator, Playing on the Playa (2009-10), Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. (Siksika), currently residing in Saskatoon

The Canada Council Art Bank, with approximately 17,500 works, has the largest collection of contemporary Canadian art in the world. It was created to support the efforts of Canadian visual artists and to provide government and corporate offices with the opportunity to rent Canadian art for their offices and public spaces. Since 2001, the Canada Council Art Bank has acquired close to 900 works through its purchase program. Currently, one third of the collection is on rental and displayed in office and public spaces, giving Canadians across the country access to a variety of works by Canadian artists.