The Art of Faye HeavyShield

February 4 - April 21, 2024

Experience the poetic power of the work of Blackfoot (Blood) artist Faye HeavyShield.

Faye HeavyShield’s work has had a profound impact on Indigenous artists from the Northern Plains and across Turtle Island. Drawing on her experience as a Blackfoot (Blood) woman and cultural matriarch from Kainai territory, in the foothills of Southern Alberta, HeavyShield created a new artistic vocabulary and potent minimalist aesthetic that established her as a major contributor to contemporary art.

This first touring retrospective of HeavyShield’s work spans four decades of her practice and occupies all of CUAG’s gallery spaces. It presents a powerful selection of the artist’s drawings, paintings, sculptures and installation works, which are grounded in the deep art history of the prairies and in her personal and communal experiences. HeavyShield’s approach as an artist centres relationality, in an aesthetics of humility and in poetic visual articulations of Blackfoot language — all rooted within her specific cultural context.

The exhibition arises from an intensive research project led by Felicia Gay (Swampy Cree), curatorial fellow at the MacKenzie Art Gallery in Regina, Saskatchewan, and guided by her understanding of story as active beings. It includes a documentary about HeavyShield’s process as an artist, directed by the renowned Plains Cree filmmaker Doug Cuthand. A major publication is forthcoming in spring 2024.

About the artist

Born in 1953, Faye HeavyShield began exhibiting her work in the early 1980s. Ottawa-Gatineau audiences were introduced to HeavyShield’s work in the 1980s at Ufundi Gallery, on Sussex Avenue, alongside such fellow First Nations contemporary artists as Shelley Niro, Robert Houle and Carl Beam.  In 1992, HeavyShield’s work was featured in the groundbreaking exhibition Land, Spirit, Power: First Nations at the National Gallery of Canada.

Today, Faye HeavyShield is renowned internationally. Her work is held in public collections across North America and has been featured in major exhibitions at The Power Plant, National Gallery of Canada, Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art, Southern Alberta Art Gallery, Art Gallery of Ontario, Pulitzer Arts Foundation (St. Louis), MacKenzie Art Gallery, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Art Gallery of Alberta and the Remai Modern, among many others.

Curated by

Felicia Gay

Artists in the exhibition

Faye HeavyShield


The Art of Faye HeavyShield is organized and circulated by the MacKenzie Art Gallery. It has been made possible in part by the Government of Canada.