Local Indigenous artist’s work tells a lurid yet hopeful story

Southampton Arts has opened its doors once more to present the exhibit ‘Shadows’, works by two artists, Susan Seitz and Brent Henry.

On this Indigenous Peoples Day, Brent Henry’s work tells a lurid story of residential schools and the loss of culture.  His pieces are raw in their depiction of the gruesome story of suffering as told by this young, Indigenous man.

His use of vibrant colours impacts the senses and his expressive images of the violence inflicted on the Indigenous people stop the viewer in his, or her, tracks.

Product of Canada

In ‘Product of Canada’, we see the children as they enter the residential school system with scissors at the ready to remove a symbol of their culture, their hair.  “I left the children’s backs untouched by paint so the viewer can see the wood, representing the toughness of these children,” says Henry.

Survivor #1 – for larger view, Click on Image

Survivor #1 is a residential school survivor who now is a ‘Grass Dancer.  “This is a residential school survivor still practicing his culture and an example of how his spirit was never broken as he celebrates his culture.”

Cultural Genocide – for larger view, Click on Image

Cultural Genocide is all about “taking the Indian” out of the child.  The work focuses on the particularly atrocious school, St. Anne’s, that operated from 1906 to 1976 and was especially brutal.  Located on Albany Island near James Bay, the school was under the direction of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate and the Grey Nuns of the Cross, also known as the Sisters of Charity, with the financial and administrative support of the federal government.

“When I researched this school, I was horrified to learn that there had been an electric chair where children were routinely shocked and that they were regularly sexually assaulted, among other atrocities.  Many children went missing from this school and I referenced the recent 215 children who were discovered in Kamloops.”

Mother Earth … a collaborative work with Susan Seitz – for larger view, Click on Image

Mother Earth is a collaborative work with Susan Seitz, depicting the loss of species such as the bison, caribou and fish.  “The symbolic ‘hands tied’ demonstrates how we, as Indigenous people, could do little to stop the carnage.”

Brent Henry (L) and Taylor Cameron (R)

Friend and fellow artist, Taylor Cameron, stopped by to congratulate Henry on his exhibit.  The painting, ‘Still Missing’, tells the story of a young girl who became a survivor and who, today, is a jingle dancer.  It and ‘Product of Canada’ are going to the Tom Thomson Gallery in Owen Sound.

“The support I have received from the community has been incredible,” says Henry. “It means that I can continue to carry on with my art.”

To learn more about Henry’s art, visit:


SHADOWS runs until July 4th at Southampton Arts … this is an exhibit that should not be missed.  For more information on the the Gallery, call or email Southampton Arts with any questions about viewing or purchasing and hours of operation.