Presented in partnership with Creative Manitoba
Wednesday, March 16, 2022, from 2pm – 3pm CST.
Join us in conversation with digital art innovator, Buffy Sainte-Marie.
The Cree singer-songwriter has been an informative pathfinder and advocate for Indigenous rights, a continually evolving artist, and a contributor of positive thinking and resiliency amid difficult issues. She has spent her whole life creating, and her artistry, humanitarian efforts, and Indigenous leadership have made her a unique force in multi-disciplinary arts.
Registration link here:
The workshop is offered Free. Please register online by 10:30 am CST March 16, 2022, the morning of the event, and a zoom link will be sent to your email address by noon!
We are honoured to host Buffy Sainte-Marie in conversation about her most recent show, BUFFY SAINTE-MARIE: PATHFINDER a retrospective by an innovator of digital art, curated by Natasha Desrochers Lowenthal, of Paquin Entertainment, and currently running at Urban Shaman Contemporary Aboriginal Gallery in partnership with aceartinc.
Pathfinder features Sainte-Marie’s full collection of large-scale digital paintings as well as never-before-seen personal sketches, artifacts, and behind-the-scenes photos that speak directly to this respected icon’s unique perspective of her own multi-disciplinary life and culture and the experiences that inspired her to create these pieces.
Sainte-Marie approached the digital medium as she has with every facet of her diverse career — with trailblazing ingenuity. Reflect back to 1984 — a time when the internet was almost unheard of and home computers were in their infancy — Sainte-Marie was there, building pieces of this collection within the confines of the very first versions of MacPaint on the earliest Macintosh models. The technology was nothing like the digital production resources we have today and was used primarily as tools for marketing and graphic design rather than for creating fine art with emotional impact. Being void of prefabricated filters or options for multiple layers, the process of creating artful images required dexterity and patience. Rising above the limitations of the software, she injected as much depth of tradition and attention to detail with pixels as one would with intricate beadwork or classic oils. Meticulously blending scanned images of her wet studio paintings and in-progress drawings and sketches with those of real fibers, feathers, and beads, Sainte-Marie crafted these digital tapestries with the precision and care of a natural-born storyteller. The visual and intellectual brilliance of this collection is undeniably ahead of its time.
About Buffy Sainte-Marie
Buffy Sainte-Marie is believed to have been born in 1941 on the Piapot First Nation reserve in Saskatchewan and taken from her biological parents when she was an infant. She was adopted by a visibly white couple and raised in Maine and Massachusetts. As a child, Buffy’s adoptive mother self-identified as part Mi’kmaq but knew little about Indigenous culture. She encouraged Buffy to find things out for herself when she grew up. By the age of four, Buffy had taught herself to play the piano by ear and was making up songs for fun. The gift of a guitar for her sixteenth birthday made her music portable. She invented new tunings which would influence both her own unique sound and that of other future musicians, like Joni Mitchell.
At university, Buffy earned undergraduate degrees in both Oriental Philosophy and Education. Upon graduation, she began singing in coffee houses in New York’s Greenwich Village, leading to her first recording contract and the extensive touring that launched Buffy to international stardom. From the late 1960s through the 1970s, she expanded both her music and visual art into experimental technologies that evolved into what is now called digital art and electronic music. Since 1983, Buffy has been the recipient of fifteen honorary degrees from universities across Turtle Island including an honorary Ph.D. in Fine Art from the University of Massachusetts. Since her groundbreaking debut album, 1964’s It’s My Way!, the Cree singer-songwriter has been an informative trailblazer and advocate for Indigenous rights, a continually evolving artist, and a contributor of positive thinking and resiliency amid difficult issues. With songs like “Universal Soldier” and “Until It’s Time for You to Go”, Buffy established herself among the ranks of songwriter greats.
Throughout her career, Buffy has devoted much of her time and resources to supporting Indigenous peoples through a variety of educational programs. Her Nihewan Foundation for Native American Education provided scholarships for Indigenous studies and students, two of whom became presidents of tribal colleges; and her Cradleboard Teaching Project provided accurate core curriculum including science, government, and geography-based in Native American cultural perspectives for all grade levels. In 1998, Buffy Sainte-Marie received the Native Americans in Philanthropy’s Louis T. Delgado Award for Native American Philanthropist of the Year and, for the next twelve years, combined her work in education with her writing, visual art, recording and touring.
Most recently, Buffy released two critically acclaimed albums, Power in the Blood (2015) and Medicine Songs (2017), collectively winning multiple JUNO Awards and the highly coveted Polaris Music Prize. In 2017, Buffy received the Allan Waters Humanitarian Award and she opened the JUNO Awards’ national telecast with a riveting introduction that went off-script when she acknowledged that Ottawa is on the “un-surrendered” territory of the Algonquin and Anishinaabe Nations who have been here “for thousands and thousands and thousands of years”. In 2019, Buffy was named a Companion of the Order of Canada – the nation’s highest civilian honour. In 2020, Buffy released her debut children’s book Hey Little Rockabye, while her 1964 album It’s My Way! won the Slaight Family Polaris Heritage Prize, awarded to albums that have remained culturally relevant decades after their release.
2021 celebrated Buffy’s 80th birthday with recognition for her lifetime of contribution as a musical and visual artist, as well as activist, educator, and philanthropist dedicated to Indigenous rights. Still on the road performing, Buffy was recently celebrated at the National Arts Centre for Canada Post’s unveiling of her commemorative stamp, as well as appearing in Los Angeles for a special tribute from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ acknowledging Buffy Sainte-Marie as the first Indigenous person ever to win an Oscar for writing the hit song, “Up Where We Belong” from An Officer and a Gentleman.
Urban Art Biz is a series of online workshops focusing on the business side of art from an Indigenous perspective. Our goal is to provide insight into the professional world and work of Indigenous artists and Indigenous galleries.
We are very grateful to our co-presenters for contributing to this very special edition of Urban Art Biz: