Jane Ash Poitras CM (born 1951) is a Cree painter and printmaker from Canada. Her work uses the idioms of mainstream art to express the experience of Aboriginal people in Canada.
Poitras uses a vocabulary of layered images, readymades and text to explore the historical and personal experience of an aboriginal person in Canadian society. This approach to creating images was developed out of Dada by the American Abstract Expressionists and their associates; Mark Rothko, Kurt Schwitters, Robert Rauschenberg, and Cy Twombly. Poitras was exposed to this work during her studies at Columbia University.
Poitras extends the meaning of her paintings by applying objects holding symbolic significance to the surface of the compositions. A Sacred Prayer for a Sacred Island, 1991 includes an eagle feather and a five dollar bill. An eagle feather is considered sacred by North American Aboriginal People; the five-dollar bill represents the treaty annuity paid by the Canadian government to aboriginal individuals.
The paintings Poitras creates can be very large. One of the pieces acquired by the Royal Ontario Museum in 2010 is a triptych 25 feet long by 9 feet high. Potato Peeling 101 to Ethnobotany 101 (2004), portrays a narrative of the experience of preserving aboriginal cultural knowledge through the years of forced assimilation.
Poitras maintains an active exhibition schedule, having participated in over 30 solo exhibitions and 60 group exhibitions before 2006. She is a long-standing sessional instructor with the University of Alberta and travels as a guest lecturer across North America. (source – Wikipedia)