Kent Monkman

Kent Monkman is among the most accomplished and provocative artists of his generation. In his visually sumptuous works, Monkman, himself of Cree, English, and Irish ancestry, plumbs various facets of his Indigenous and queer identity. In his paintings, installations, performances, and films, he challenges and disrupts common perceptions of Indigenous peoples by subverting their traditional roles in Western art history. He proposes, for instance, narratives in which the roles of Indigenous peoples and settlers are reversed, narratives that are meant as caustic—and sometimes cheeky—critiques of Canadian history and how it is told.

 

In the early 2000s, Monkman began to draw inspiration from nineteenth-century paintings of dramatic North American landscapes by Romantic artists such as Paul Kane (1810–71), Thomas Cole (1801–48), and Albert Bierstadt (1830–1902). Monkman’s revisioning of these landscapes, however, places the Indigenous perspective at the forefront of a new artistic, social, and political narrative. 

 

Monkman has received numerous awards and distinctions, including an Indspire Award and an honorary doctorate from the Ontario College of Art and Design University. In 2019, he was selected to create two large-scale frescoes, Welcoming the Newcomers and Resurgence of the People (both 2019) for the Great Hall at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. His exhibition Shame and Prejudice: A Story of Resilience marking Canada’s sesquicentennial travelled extensively.