"'Indian art?'? Well, if somebody wants to call it that, that's okay, fine by me. I want to be an artist first. It's not because of my colour that I want to do what I want to do the kind of work I do; lots of white people do that kind of work.
I am a modern painter... I'm coming close to what I want."
The Benjamin Chee Chee: Life and Legacy Exhibition was held at TAG in Spring, 2018. It comprises 34 paintings, prints, and drawings by Ojibwe artist Benjamin Chee Chee on loan from galleries and private collections across Ontario. It also includes historical documents, bilingual informative wall panels, and a soundscape with original CBC interviews of Chee Chee and Indigenous music recorded on Bear Island Temagami First Nations, Chee Chee’s childhood home.
Chee Chee's story has many elements that are relevant and vital to community conversations about art, the reality of Indigenous experience in Canada, and mental health: a gifted artist with a unique artistic style who was recognized internationally; an Indigenous youth searching for his lost mother; and troubled man who tragically took his own life after being arrested. Although a moving experience in itself, the exhibition entails extensive community outreach and conversations, as were facilitated by TAG during its time at the gallery.
The Temiskaming Art Gallery is committed to reaching out to youth and Indigenous groups to diversify its service base. We wish to present relevant art for these groups and foster constructive conversations that encourage cultural healing. Our hope is that presenting this exhibition will bring new people into the Gallery, allowing art to enrich their lives while their participation enriches the Gallery.