Janna Watson, a Canadian abstract artist, is an avid collector of Canadian indigenous art with a passion for supporting indigenous female artists’ role in the Canadian art world.
Janna Watson, a renowned Canadian abstract painter, strives to bring about equality in the Canadian art world. Her support for female painters and indigenous artists has not gone unnoticed. Janna Watson’s desire to expose the indigenous narratives of Canadian art, she believes, will shift the current Canadian art narrative based on the ‘Group of Seven’ towards the real Canadian art narrative, namely Inuit Art.
Getting to Know Janna Watson
Janna Waston is a celebrated abstract artist and rug designer in the Canadian art world. She is best known for her abstract compositions characterized by bundles of color and inseparable yet distinct instances of pigments, or what she calls “moments”.
Janna Watson has, over the years, continued to exhibit her work across Canada and internationally. Her work has featured in various notable public collections and exhibitions, including those of the Ritz-Carlton, the Soho Metropolitan Hotel, and the ONi ONE. She has launched over thirty solo exhibitions, her latest Finding Joy, currently being presented at the Bau-Xi Gallery in Vancouver.
Her work has also featured several literary publications, including The Toronto Star, the Globe, and Mail, NOW Magazine, and House & Home.
Janna Watson is also a custom rug designer. She runs Studio Watson, her own rug studio specializing in producing contemporary hand-tufted floor pieces that redefine interiors. Her rug designs are all inspired by and intimately connected to her abstract compositions.
Shifting Narratives in Canadian Art
The Canadian indigenous art narrative was heavily influenced by the ‘Group of Seven,’ a group of seven white male Canadian artists who surprised art critics with their first exhibition in Toronto in 1920, focusing on Canada’s unique landscape and wild ruggedness. The group then set out to establish and develop a distinctly Canadian art movement.
Canadian indigenous art narratives were heavily influenced, shaped, and configured by the groups’ work spanning decades. The ‘Group of Seven’ were and still are some of Canada’s most infamous artists. For some Canadians, their art has come to symbolize ‘what is distinctly Canadian’ in Canada’s indigenous art narrative.
Janna Watson believes this Canadian art narrative originating from the ‘Group of Seven’ needs to change, and this change can only occur through the exposure of indigenous art narratives. The exposure of female indigenous artists, Janna Waston believes, will shift the reigning art narrative, based on the ‘Group of Seven,’ to what she coined the “real Canadiana, which is Inuit Art.”
Janna Watson often expresses the need to create spaces that allow for the exposure of indigenous art narratives. She is an avid collector of female Inuit artists, including Shuvinai Ashoona, Annie Pootoogook, and Ningiukulu Teevee. In her own way, by collecting artworks specifically of female Inuit artists, Janna Watson hopes to illuminate the place and importance of female Inuit artists in the Canadian art narrative.
Janna Watson also planned to collaborate with several Inuit artists, who employ various rug tufting techniques, at the West Baffin Eskimo Cooperative at Cape Dorset in Nunavut. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic prevented these plans from taking place.
As an avid collector and an artist who collaborates with Inuit artists, Janna Watson believes that illuminating indigenous Canadian art narratives, especially narratives of female Inuit artists, should shift the outdated Canadian art narrative towards the real Canadiana narrative, which is, in fact, Inuit Art.
What is Janna Watson Working on Now?
While her collaboration project with the Inuit artists is on hold, Janna Watson recently completed the commission of a rug for the Drake Hotel’s lobby in Toronto, alongside Ifrah Ansari, a woman operating her own weaving mill in India. Together they also completed a hand-knotted rug, designed according to one of her paintings, which is to be placed in the Hyatt Hotel’s boardroom.
Janna Watson is also currently presenting her latest solo exhibition, Finding Joy, at the Bau-Xi Gallery in Vancouver from the 9th-23rd of January 2021.