Adrian Stimson

"In Stimson’s work he often will use real materials like buffalo hide or the remnants of the actual residential school that he attended in order to ground his camp aesthetic in an actual experience or material reality.

"This is what marks his difference from other postmodern aesthetics and why his work has to oscillate between mourning and mayhem. He constantly reminds us that we are talking about living beings, communities and spiritual realms. We cannot just make up a future without attending to the past in an honest unwavering examination. It is in the performance of play and the creation of spaces of mourning, in the creation of fictions and the maintenance of alternative histories, in the letting go and holding on to colonial trauma, and the engagement with the sacred and sacrilegious that separates Stimson’s from the rest as a radical agent of change and not simply a performer of postmodern puns."

- Wanda Nanibush, Curator, Indigenous Art, Indigenous + Canadian Art Department, Art Gallery of Ontario


Adrian Stimson was born in 1964 in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. He is a member of the Siksika Nation (Blackfoot Reserve, Alberta), and was raised there. He served as tribal councillor for eight years in the 1990s, leaving to pursue art in 1999. Stimson studied at the Alberta College of Art and Design in Calgary, Alberta, receiving his Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2003. He has since completed a Master of Fine Arts at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon.

Stimson uses a variety of media in his art that incorporate themes of history, gender, and identity. His “Buffalo Boy” performances use satire to critique stereotypes about Aboriginal people, his installation “Old Sun” explores the legacy of the residential school system, while his “Transformation” exhibit of paintings examines the subject of missing Aboriginal women. His work has been exhibited throughout Canada, and he is particularly known for his “tar and feather” series.

Bison often appear in Stimson's work: “I use the bison as a symbol representing the destruction of the Aboriginal way of life, but it also represents survival and cultural regeneration. The bison is central to Blackfoot being. And the bison as both icon and food source, as well as the whole history of its disappearance, is very much a part of my contemporary life” (Canadian Art Magazine, 2007). Stimson has received honours and awards including the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal (2003), the Alberta Centennial Medal (2005), and the Blackfoot Visual Arts Award (2009). In 2006, Stimson served as artist-in-residence at the Mendel Art Gallery (Saskatoon).

In 2008, Stimson was featured in an episode of the documentary series Landscape As Muse. In 2010, he was selected to travel to Afghanistan as part of the Canadian Forces Artists program.

In 2018 Stimson became a recipient of a Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts.


From the artist's web site:

"(Adrian Stimson) considers himself as an interdisciplinary artist; he exhibits nationally and internationally. His paintings are primarily monochromatic; they primarily depict bison in imagined landscapes; they are melancholic, memorializing, and sometimes whimsical; they evoke ideas of cultural fragility, resilience and nostalgia. The British Museum recently acquired two paintings for their North American Indigenous collection.

"His performance art looks at identity construction, specifically the hybridization of the Indian, the cowboy, the shaman and Two Spirit being. Buffalo Boy, The Shaman Exterminator are two reoccurring personas. He is also known for putting his body under stress, in White Shame Re-worked, he pierced his chest 7 times, recreating a performance originally done by Ahasiw-Muskegon Iskew, crawled across the desert in 110 degree heat for What about the Red Man? For Burning Man’s The Green Man and recently dug a TRENCH in a five-day durational performance sunrise to sunset.

"His installation work primarily examines the residential school experience; he attended three residential schools in his life. He has used the material culture from Old Sun Residential School on his Nation to create works that speak to genocide, loss and resilience.

"His photography includes collodion wet plate portraits, performance dioramas and war depictions.

"His sculpture work has been primarily collaborative; he has worked with relatives of Murdered and Missing Women to create Bison Sentinels and with the Whitecap Dakota Nation in creating Sprit of Alliance a monument to the War of 1812, in Saskatoon."
Adrian Stimson's Website

Solo Exhibitions and Performances
2017
  • TRENCH (Performance), Siksika Nation, The Military Museums Calgary, AB May 23 - 27, 2017
  • School Days, Wanuskewin Heritage Park, Saskatoon, SK
  • 150 Blows (Performance/Exhibit), AKA, Saskatoon, SK
2016
  • The Shaman Exterminator On the Trail of the Woodcraft Indians with the Buffalo Boy Scouts of America (video), Urban Shaman, Winnipeg, MN
  • Taxidea Tasus Tuum Est The School of Badger (performance with Rebecca Belmore and Lori Blondeau), UBC Okanagan
  • Once we were Pilgrims (Performance with Lori Blondeau and Michael Farnan), Two Story Café, Prince Albert, SK
  • Pilgrims of the Wild (video with Lori Blondeau and Michael Farnan) Two Story Café and Urban Shaman, Prince Albert, SK
  • Buffalo Boy’s Let them Eat Pie (Performance) Nuit Blanche, Saskatoon
  • 150 Blows 150 (performance), 7a11d, Toronto, ON
2015
  • Silent Witness (Performance), University of Regina, Regina, SK.
  • Buffalo Boy’s I hear the train a comin… (Performance), Talking Back to Johnny Mac, Queens University, Kingston, ON
  • Belle Sauvage & Buffalo Boy Introducing the Wild West to the Big Smoke (Performance), Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, ON
2014
  • The Immortal Buffalo Boy, Art Gallery of Regina, Regina, SK
  • Spirit of Alliance, (Monument to the War of 1812), Public Monument, Saskatoon, SK
  • Buffalo Boy’s Islands of Hiawatha, (Performance), Are you out of your mind, Artscape, Toronto Island
  • Buffalo Boy’s Chief Rogue, (Performance), This could be the place, University of Waterloo Art Gallery
  • The Life and Times of Buffalo Boy, (Performance and Book launch), Truck Gallery/M:ST, Calgary, AB
2012
  • Buffalo Boy’s Born Again, (Performance) Exploring Masculinities, Queen’s University Union Gallery, Kingston, ON
  • Herd & 75 Million, (Installation & Solo Exhibition), Fort Calgary, Calgary, AB
  • Shaman Exterminator. Currency, (Performance) Saskatchewan Arts Alliance, Artesian, Regina SK
  • Buffalo Boy’s Coal Jubilee Jubilee / House of the Wayward Spirits, (Performance) ANDPVA, Queen’s Park, Toronto, ON
  • White Shame Revisited, (Performance) Grunt Gallery, Vancouver, BC
  • Stampede Herd/Ghosts of Bison Past, (Installation/Paintings) Calgary Stampede Western Showcase, Calgary, AB
  • Post - Modern Bison, (Permanent collection display) Glenbow Museum, Calgary, AB
  • Looking for Little Horse, (Performance) Two Story Café/ Mann Art Gallery, Price Albert, SK
  • Buffalo Boy Don’t Look East, (Video) Brick and Mortar video festival, Mass Moca, Massachusetts, USA
  • The Shaman Exterminator: On the Trail of the Woodcraft Indian’s, Paved Arts, Saskatoon, SK
2011
  • La Nostalgia Remix, (Performance) Special Guest Buffalo Boy with James Luna/Guillermo Gomez - Pena, TRIBE @ Paved Arts. Saskatoon, SK . March 14, 2001
  • Pink Panther, (Performance) Open Sky. Fort Simpson, NWT. March 21 - 23, 2001
  • Re - Herd, (Installation), Prairie Scene, National Arts Centre. Ottawa, ON
  • Buffalo Boy’s Blackout Bingo, (Performance)SWARM, National Arts Centre, Ottawa, ON. April 26
  • Holding Our Breath, Neutral Ground, Regina, SK
  • The Life and Times of Buffalo Boy, (Installation & Performance) The Works, Edmonton
  • Burning Sheaf, (Installation) Burning Man, NV, USA
  • Bison Heart, (Permanent Painting Installation) The James Hotel, Saskatoon, SK
  • The Great Mystery, (Performance Collaboration Free Flow Dance Company) Refinery, Saskatoon, SK
  • 75 Million, (Solo AFA touring Exhibition) Prairie Art Gallery, Grande Prairie, AB
2010
  • Canadian Forces Artist Program, Kandahar/Masum Ghar, Afghanistan
  • Beyond Redemption, Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon, SK
  • Buffalo Boy’s Cabaret, Love Saskatchewan, Harbourfront, Toronto, ON
  • Brave Seduction, (Performance) Gallery 101, Ottawa, ON
  • Kentucky Fried Chicken Dance, 2 Story Café/Art Gallery of Prince Albert, Prince Albert, SK
  • “Putting the Wild Back into the West” , Plug In Gallery (inaugural opening), Winnipeg, MB
2009
  • Buffalo Boy’s You Can Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd, (Performance) Prairie North, Grande Prairie, AB
  • Belle Sauvage & Buffalo Boy: Putting the Wild Back into the West, Artspace, Peterborough, ON
  • Sick and Tired. Transformation, FN University Gallery, FNU, Regina, SK
  • Buffalo Boy’s Why Not?, The Banff Centre, Performance in Banff townsite, Banff, AB
2008
  • Belle Sauvage & Buffalo Boy: It’s a Wonderful Life, (Performance) The Cherch. Saskatoon, SK
  • Putting the Wild Back into the West, (Performance), ARNICA/KAG, Kamloops, BC
  • Buffalo Boy’s Battle of Little Big Horny, (Performance) Mountain Standard Time Festival, Calgary, AB Old Sun/Sick & Tired/Inhumation, TRUCK gallery, Calgary, AB
  • Buffalo Boy’s The American Dream: Manifest Destiny Revisited, (Performance) Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV. USA
  • Bison Sentinels, Healing Gardens (Sculpture: Public Commission) First Nations University of Canada, Regina, SK
  • Buffalo Boy’s Do Not Feel the Buffalo. Moving Camp, (Performance) Modern Fuel, Kingston, ON
  • Belle Savage & Buffalo Boy: Putting the Wild Back into the West, (Performance), Le Centrale, Montreal, Quebec
  • Desperate Commons-Gym Acts, (Performance) Banff Center, Banff, AB
2007
  • Buffalo Boy’s Confessional Indulgence , The Red Shift Gallery, Saskatoon, SK
  • Buffalo Boy’s Shaman Exterminator – The Red Man, (Performance) Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA
  • Buffalo Boy’s More than a Woman, (Performance), Congress 2007, Saskatoon, SK
  • Buffalo Boy’s More than a Woman, (Performance) Sagewewak story telling Festival, Regina, SK
  • Bison Heart, Nouveau Gallery, Regina, SK
  • The Buffalo: Adrian Stimson, (Documentary) Landscape as Muse, 291 film Co, Regina, SK
2006
  • Belle Savage & Buffalo Boy; Putting the Wild Back into the West, (Performance) Western Front, Vancouver, BC
  • Runs Down Town & Buffalo Boy: Buckskin Mounting, (Performance) Talking Stick Festival, Vancouver, BC
2005
  • Plane Language, (Performance) Agriculture Bldg. University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK
  • Buffalo Boy’s Heart On, MFA Exhibit, Gordon Snelgrove Gallery, Saskatoon, SK
  • Treaty Performance, (Performance) Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA
  • Tarred & Feathered Derivative, Prairie Art Gallery, Grande Prairie, AB
2004
  • Buffalo Boy loves Burning Man, (Performance), Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA
  • Wilder West, (Performance), AKA Members Space, Saskatoon, SK
  • Putting the WILD back into the West Belle Sauvage and Buffalo Boy, (Performance) Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon, SK
2003
  • Wake up, Domicile Interiors, Calgary, AB
2002
  • Buffalo Particles and Shields, Nitsitapiisinni: Our way of life exhibit, , Glenbow Museum, Calgary, AB
2000
  • Resonance, Tathacus Resources Ltd./Xogen Power Inc. Calgary, AB May. June 2000
1999
  • Life Textures, Jawz Technologies, Calgary, AB, May - June 1999
Group Exhibitions and Performances
2017
  • Plastic Rhymes Estevan Art Gallery, Estevan, SK
  • Sovereign Acts II, Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery, Concordia University, Montreal, PQ
  • If We Ever Met… Pātaka Art + Museum in Porirua, NZ
2016
  • Northern Plains Artists, Calgary Stampede Art pavilion, Calgary, AB
  • With Secrecy and Dispatch Campbelltown Arts Centre, NSW, Australia
  • Northern Plains Artists Calgary Stampede Art pavilion, Calgary, AB
2015
  • Moving Forward Never Forgetting, Mackenzie Art Gallery, Regina, SK.
  • Mammo’wiiang to make change, Art Gallery of Southern Manitoba, Brandon, MB
  • Canadian Indigenous Contemporary Art from Saskatchewan the “Prairie” province, Darren Baker Gallery/CS Redlick, London, UK
2014
  • Terms of Engagement, Esker Foundation, Calgary, AB / Agnes Etherington Art Gallery, Kingston, ON / Mount St.Vincent Art Gallery, Halifax, NS
  • OSKUN, (Exhibition with Michel Boutin), Wanuskewin Art Gallery, Saskatoon, SK
  • Belle Savage Looking for MR. and a Good Bar, (Performance with Lori Blondeau), Southern Alberta Art Gallery, Lethbridge, AB
  • Sovereign Acts, University of Toronto Art Gallery, Toronto, ON/SAAG, Lethbridge, AB
  • Canadian Idol No More, (Performance with Lori Blondeau), University of Lethbridge Art Gallery
  • Story Telling, Ottawa School of Art & Art Mur, Montreal, QU
2013
  • Lovesick Child, A Space, Toronto, ON
  • Witnesses: Art and Canada’s Indian Residential Schools, Belkin Art Gallery, UBC, Vancouver, BC
  • NET-ETH Going out of the darkness, Malaspina Printmakers, Emily Carr University, Vancouver BC
  • Blood Memoirs: Exploring Individuality, Memory and Culture, Tweed Museum, Duluth, Minn, USA
  • Reconsidering Reconciliation, TRU, Kamloops, BC
2012
  • Narrative Quest, – MOCA, Calgary, AB
  • Piece of Work, Gordon Snelgrove Gallery, SK
  • Where It’s At, . Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon, SK
  • Emnowaagosijig//Coming Out The Shifting and Multiple self, Toronto Free Gallery, Toronto, ON
  • Sovereign Acts, . Heart House, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON
  • Suffer Little Children, ARNICA. Kamloops, BC
2011
  • Narrative Quest, (Group Exhibition touring) Royal Alberta Museum, Edmonton, AB Present
2009
  • Unmasking, Canadian Cultural Centre, Paris, France
  • Photo Quai Deuxieme Biennale Des Images Du Monde, Musee du quai Branly, Paris, France
  • Transformations, (2 person Exhibition) Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba, Brandon, MB
  • Art is Journey, Group show: JPL Building, The Banff Centre, Banff, AB
  • “Art is Journey”, Thematic Group Exhibition, The Banff Centre JPL Bldg
2008
  • Face the Nation, Art Gallery of Alberta, Edmonton, AB
  • That’s So Gay, Saskatoon, SK
  • Marisa Portolese - Adrian Stimson, (2 person exhibition), IPS Gallery, Montreal, Quebec
  • Honouring Tradition: Reframing Native Art, Glenbow Museum, Calgary, AB
  • Tracing History: Presenting the Unpresentable, Glenbow Museum, Calgary, AB
2007
  • Then and Now, Avenue Community Center, Saskatoon, SK
  • SeasonNull, Snelgrove Gallery, UofS, Saskatoon, SK
2006
  • UofS collection exhibit, Gordon Snelgrove Gallery, Saskatoon, SK
  • Gambling the Prairie Winnings, Dunlop Art Gallery, Regina, SK
  • Sick and Tired, (2 person Exhibition), Grunt gallery, Vancouver, BC
2005
  • That’s So Gay, Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon, SK
  • SURE?, (MFA Group Show), Gordon Snelgrove Gallery, Saskatoon, SK
2004
  • Untitled, (MFA Group Show), Gordon Snelgrove Gallery, Saskatoon, SK
  • Summer Group Show, Susan Whitney Gallery, Regina, SK
2003
  • Winter Group Show, Susan Whitney Gallery, Regina, SK
  • Fall Group Show, Susan Whitney Gallery, Regina, SK
  • Summer Group Show, Susan Whitney Gallery, Regina, SK
  • in reference: faculty and Fascism, Gallery 371, ACAD, Calgary, AB
  • 5 degrees, Art Gallery of Calgary, Calgary, AB