Arnold Jacobs: Power of the Feather

March 23 – May 19, 2024
Opening Reception: Sunday, March 24, 1:00pm – 2:30pm
Glenhyrst Art Gallery, Brantford, Ontario

Curated by Matthew Ryan Smith

Arnold Jacobs, Discussing the Environment, acrylic on canvas, 2022. Image courtesy of the artist.

This survey exhibition of Onondaga (Turtle Clan) artist Arnold Jacobs’s paintings, prints, and sculpture spans over four decades of his creative practice. A former condoled confederacy chief, Jacobs’s artwork and service to his community are deeply intertwined. His artwork is recognised for incorporating clan emblems, traditional stories, and animal symbolism drawn from Haudenosaunee culture and oral history. Having worked as a commercial artist for over twenty years, Jacobs’s paintings combine the precision of commercial illustration with the boundless freedom of abstraction. Similarly, his prints of flora and fauna – ranging from white pines to bald eagles – are highly stylised, brightly coloured, and electrified with movement. The exhibition also features Jacobs’s first large-scale sculpture, a lifesize Sky Woman landing on the back of a turtle, which resonates with spiritual meaning. Through a variety of media, Jacobs’s extraordinary body of work presents Haudenosaunee culture in original and unexpected ways.

About the Artist
Arnold Jacobs (b. 1942) is an Onondaga (Turtle Clan) artist and former condoled confederacy chief living on Six Nations of the Grand River territory. He graduated from the studio art and design program at Central Tech in Toronto in 1966. Jacobs was later employed as a commercial artist for W. L. Griffin Printing in Hamilton for fourteen years. In 1984, he opened a commercial art gallery in his home before launching Two Turtles Gallery in Ohsweken, which sold his original artwork and promoted emerging Six Nations artists.

Jacobs is recognised for applying historical Haudenosaunee teachings and language to his commercial work, pendant jewellery, prints, paintings, and sculpture. He remains committed to empowering Indigenous youth through visual art and sharing Six Nations cultural practices with the world. From 2001 to 2008, his award-winning “flying eagle” design was embossed on Air Canada’s Boeing 767 jet, and in 2019 he was awarded the Ontario Arts Council’s Indigenous Arts Award. Jacobs’s work resides in private and public art collections in Canada and the United States including the Smithsonian Institution (Washington, DC), Iroquois Museum (Howes Cave, NY), Canadian Museum of History (Hull, QC), and Woodland Cultural Centre (Brantford, ON).

Glenhyrst Art Gallery acknowledges that we are on the traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishnaabe, and Haudenosaunee Peoples. This land is part of the Dish with One Spoon Treaty between the Haudenosaunee and Anishnaabe peoples and symbolises the agreement to share, protect our resources, and not to engage in conflict. The City of Brantford is situated on the Haldimand Tract, land promised to Six Nations, which includes six miles on each side of the Grand River.

Glenhyrst Art Gallery is fully accessible and includes an elevator and accessible washroom. The main entrance is accessed by a concrete pathway and may be opened with an automatic door opener. For assistance or questions about the gallery, please contact the gallery.

Admission is free, donations are accepted, and everyone is welcome.

Contact Information:
Glenhyrst Art Gallery
20 Ava Road
Brantford, ON N3T 5G9
(519) 756-5932

Social Media
Facebook: @glenhyrst
Instagram: @glenhyrst