Jerry Evans‘ life has been dedicated to the arts. His practice has evolved and multiplied over the course of his career, and include student, artist, Master Printmaker, teacher, mentor, curator, filmmaker, tattoo artist, powwow dancer, and actor.
Born in Grand Falls, Newfoundland in 1961, in his early 20’s, Evans discovered his Mi’kmaq ancestry, which had been unacknowledged by his family. He has said of this discovery, that it “was almost like being reborn.” Evans told Arts Atlantic in 1998 that “I’ve taken on this discovery with an intense desire to find out more… that’s what I’m exploring in my art. My artwork reflects my concerns with the aboriginal part of me that was denied.”
That same year, Evans mounted a solo exhibition, entitled Msit No’kmaq/All My Relations, at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery. In the 20 lithographs on display, including Truth and Myth, Evans presented a visual exploration of his identity, history and culture. Curator Janet Clark tells us that in Evans’s use of Mi’kmaq designs, symbols, and archival images, a “narrative emerges that encourages fresh consideration of these images. It is the artist’s intent to bring forward the significance of these symbols by giving them a new interpretation, one that invites consideration of their intrinsic meaning.”
Of his work at the time, Evans said “I feel compelled not only to celebrate but to dissect and explore my native heritage, how it relates to the European culture and how the two cultures, of which I am a part, interact and affect each other. My aim will remain to nurture a better understanding of aboriginal cultures and peoples both for myself and those experiencing my work.” Though written over 20 years ago, this seems to encapsulate what Evans has continued to do over his long and varied career. It is left for us to imagine where his journey may take him next.
Originally published in The Walleye – OCT 2019
By Meaghan Eley, Registrar & Curatorial Assistant, Thunder Bay Art Gallery