Selective Focus: Carl Gawboy’s Life Well-Painted

A Life Well Painted

This text, taken from the curriculum written by Wendy Savage, serves to introduce Carl Gawboy — a foundational artist in this region.

At Tweed Museum of Art this winter of 2021, Carl Gawboy’s stellar paintings were featured in the exhibition “A Life Well Painted: The Art of Carl Gawboy.” It featured 36 narrative paintings. Carl Gawboy is a highly respected Ojibwe and Finnish artist; he paints the beauty of everyday life of his Ojibwe people. He is an Elder and enrolled member of the Bois Fort Band of Chippewa in Northern Minnesota. Carl has been creating art since he was a child at his Finnish mother’s kitchen table. Carl’s father was a trapper, and his mother was a teacher and farmer. Carl went on to college and studied art and history, and researched the fur trade era.

Throughout his lifetime of painting, Carl documents for us what he saw as a child and what he found in his research. He paints to share his deep love and respect of his family, the Ojibwe people, and the land they lived on. He shows us his memories of the traditions he grew up with in the woodlands: gardening, harvesting wild rice, logging, dances, fishing, trapping, farming, raising children, and celebrating with family and community members.

Today, Carl lives on the shores of Lake Superior where he continues to paint his memories growing up. He shows us moments in Ojibwe history so that we do not forget. We hope that by discovering his artwork you will have a new way of seeing and looking at the living history and culture of the Ojibwe people.

Unfortunately, Carl’s exhibition was closed to the public because of the pandemic. There will be a gala exhibition next spring, celebrating Carl and his painting, at the American Indian Community Housing Organization (AICHO), curated by Ivy Vainio in the Robert Powless Center with assistance by Wendy Savage.

The Moccasin Game

Before School

Home from School

Helmi Skipping on a Stump

Helmi in Her Garden

Star Maiden

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