COSMO BARRANCA artists publications home
pastel on paper
9 1/2 x 8 1/2 in, 24.13 x 21.59 cm

1919 -
Daphne Odjig was born in 1919 of Ojibwa and Canadian/English parents, on the Wikewemikong Reserve on Manitoulin Island. Her mother was an English warbride, her father could trace his ancestors through the Odawa/Potawatomi tribes. Daphne had always shown an interest in art - encouraged first by her grandfather who was a stone carver - but for years her images were much influenced by an eclectic group of modern European painters.

She'd moved to Toronto in 1942 and because she was unable to cope with the descrimination, ostensibly left her Indian roots and joined the mainstream world. In Toronto she met and married Paul Somerville, moved to Coquitlam and raised two boys. Paul was killed in a car crash in 1960.

In the 1960's, with the rise of the American Indian Movement and Norval Morrisseau's Toronto triumph, Indian pride was creeping into the Canadian culture like a breath of fresh air. It became easier to be an Indian and Daphne began focussing her imagery on the Ojibwa culture she'd left behind. She remarried and had a successful show of 78 pieces in Port Arthur in 1967. By 1971 when she and her husband moved to Winnipeg they were able to open a shop that specialized in native art and crafts. They also published several books of Ojibwa stories and legends directed at young readers.

As her work evolved, her images became brightly coloured and highly stylized. Executed with soft flowing contours, the shapes are often outlined in black. Daphne Odjig was the only female member of the Indian Group of Seven that initially made up the new Eastern Woodlands School of Canadian art. She stood out from the men in the group, in that her images were most often emphasizing womanhood and family as opposed to native spirituality.


Received commissions from Expo '70 in Osaka, Japan; the Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature; and the Israeli airline, El Al

Awarded a six-month scholarship by Sweden's Brucebo Foundation in 1973

Received an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from Laurentian University in 1982

An Honorary Doctorate of Law from the University of Toronto in 1985, and an Honorary Doctorate of Education from Nipissing University in 1997

Served as advisor to the Society of Canadian Artists of Native Ancestry (SCANA) in 1985; in 1993, this organization honoured her as an Elder and presented her with a sacred eagle feather

In 1986, she was one of four artists in the world, selected by the curators of the Picasso Museum in Antibes, France, to paint a memorial to Picasso

Received the Order of Canada, in 1986, Aboriginal Achievement Award, for her artistic and social activism

Elected to the Royal Canadian Academy [of Art] in 1989

Presented with a National Aboriginal Achievement Award for Arts and Culture in 1998

Selected Collections

Brandon University, Brandon, Manitoba
Canadian Guild of Crafts Quebec, Montreal, Quebec
Canadian Indian Marketing Services, Ottawa, Ontario
Canadian Museum of Civilization, Hull, Quebec
Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Ottawa, Ontario
Department of Indian Affairs, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Glenbow Museum, Calgary, Alberta
Glenview Corporation, Ottawa, Ontario
Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario
Laurentian University Museum and Art Centre, Sudbury, Ontario
Manitoba Centennial Centre Corp., Winnipeg, Manitoba
Manitoba Indian Brotherhood, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature, Winnipeg, Manitoba
McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Kleinburg, Ontario
Ojibwe Cultural Foundation, West Bay, Ontario
Peguis High School, Hodgson, Manitoba
Pontiac School, Wikwemikong, Ontario
Princess Margaret Hospital, Toronto, Ontario
Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Ontario