As a precocious eight-year-old, Jane Ash Poitras functioned as an adult, doing the shopping and banking for her elderly guardian. Years later it was that same determination to get things done that took Ms. Poitras to Columbia University in New York City where she received her Masters in Fine Arts in 1985, a slight career change for an artist whose first degree was in Microbiology.
Ms. Poitras’ work is truly original and has permanently altered the way people look at or consider First Nations art. She works in a variety of media including painting and mixed-media collages that incorporate historical and contemporary symbols, photographs, newspaper clippings, and painted elements. Each is infused with powerful social and cultural meaning. Her recent paintings and collages are part of a self-described “reclamation process,” combining autobiographical elements with traditional Cree iconography, text and imagery to address issues of acculturation. Ms. Poitras defines her artistic work as being “the ultimate testimony of belief in the vision”.
That vision has taken Ms. Poitras and her work around the world, and gained her numerous honours and awards. Her exhibitions have graced gallery walls from Vancouver to Paris, from New York City to Los Angeles, and from Toronto to Amsterdam. Her works have been featured in over 30 solo exhibitions, 60 group exhibitions, and 50 collections including numerous prestigious public and private collections such as the National Gallery of Canada, the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Canadian Embassy in Moscow. She has lectured regularly at the University of Alberta and has been a guest lecturer at universities and galleries across the continent and over-seas.
Ms. Poitras has generously and actively supported numerous worthy causes in both the Aboriginal community and the community at large.