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Item Name: Painting
Title: The Altar 1
Maker: Keith Bird
Year: 2016
Materials: oil on canvas
Measurements: 91 cm diameter
ID Number: PC2020.4

Extended Label Info: Keith Bird uses several elements in these two paintings that are important symbols within the Indigenous culture of the plains. The circular shape of the canvas echoes the medicine wheel, a symbol for the Indigenous world view. The buffalo skull reflects the long history that the plains people share with the buffalo and the land. The buffalo were an important source of food and clothing for the people here. The colours red and black are family colours for Bird, and along with yellow and blue, are associated with the cardinal directions in the medicine wheel. These paintings were first exhibited as part of the exhibition, “Keith Bird: Spiritual Veterans” in 2019 at Dunlop Art Gallery, Sherwood Branch. The exhibition focused on the spirituality, strength, and resilience of Indigenous veterans, who fought and continue to fight to protect land, culture, and human dignity. Keith Bird (1955 - ) Keith Bird is Saulteaux and Cree, born and raised on George Gordon First Nation, in Treaty Four Territory, near Punnichy and Lestock, Saskatchewan. Bird is artist and educator. He works closely with Indigenous cultural leaders and knowledge keepers, and incorporates his deep knowledge of Indigenous cultural teachings into his artwork as a strategy to use education to bring Indigenous, newcomer and settler peoples together through a better understanding of Indigenous culture and spirituality. The traditional teachings emphasize the role of family, home, eternity, partnerships, and nature. Bird earned both his BFA (2008) and MFA (2013) at the University of Regina, and currently teaches at the First Nations University of Canada in the department of Visual Arts. His artwork has been exhibited nationally and is held in private and public collections.