Bob Boyer - His Life's Work
Bob Boyer (1948-2004) was a man of the world – artist, curator, historian and educator, his influence and passion for art was far-reaching and touched many.
Although he lived his entire life in Saskatchewan, he was a world traveller, enthusiastically following an architectural lead all the way to Northern Europe or
enjoying the happy, joyful rambling of the Arizona powwow trail. He began his career as a landscape painter but quickly moved to abstract compositions of vivid
colour, influenced by the Regina Five and the work of popular ceramists of the late 60s and early 70s. Upon graduating from the University of Regina with a Bachelor
of Education in 1971, Boyer moved to Hoey, Saskatchewan, teaching art and drama for the Prince Albert Separate School Board for two years. He continued to paint and
draw in the evenings and in the mid 1970s proved himself to be quite the curator with the debut of 100 Years of Saskatchewan Indian Art (1870-1930) at the Norman
Mackenzie Gallery. Boyer’s recognition of the stylistic differences between Cree, Assiniboine, Sioux, Blackfoot and Saulteaux objects as works of art would later
inform his use of traditional Northern Plains imagery in his geometric abstract paintings.
His extensive travels as a teacher to remote Northern Saskatchewan communities exposed him to different approaches in materials and landscapes which would also
become central to his formation as an artist. Boyer’s understanding of the design, philosophy and spiritual meanings of Aboriginal art increased enormously when he
joined Saskatchewan Indian Federated College as a program consultant in 1978, eventually becoming Department Head in 1980. Research into historical Indigenous arts
throughout the world, ongoing conversations with Elders, and participation in powwows and ceremonies, would continue to inspire Boyer’s artistic direction throughout
his lifetime. In the 1980s Boyer proved to be quite the firebrand, experimenting with Aboriginal iconography in acrylic on blanket and producing sobering, political
charged works that alluded to the devastating effect of colonialists on Native communities. By the mid-1990s, Boyer’s work had become looser and more introspective,
filled with whimsical images such as as birds, fish, people, angels and other figurative elements, revealing a fusion of spiritual philosophies and symbolism learned
from Indigenous peoples throughout the world. A career that took Boyer from the northernmost reaches of Saskatchewan to a remote and isolated mosque in the Gobi Desert produced an artist of great generosity, empathy and power – both an educator and a lifelong learner happiest when sharing the breadth of his experience and work
Join us in commemorating Bob Boyer’s inspiring life in a new retrospective currently on view at the Museum of Civilization. Bob Boyer – His Life’s Work, curated by our great friend Lee-Ann Martin, continues until November 4, 2012.