I feel compelled not only to celebrate but to dissect and explore my native heritage, how it relates to the European culture and how the two cultures, of which I am a part, interact and affect each other. My aim will remain to nurture a better understanding of aboriginal cultures and peoples both for myself and those experiencing my work.
From Msit No'kmaq/All My Relations exhibition publication, organized by the Thunder Bay Art Gallery, 1998.
Jerry Evans is a printmaker, painter, and filmmaker who works and lives in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador.
Evans was born in the central Newfoundland town of Grand Falls in 1961. He holds a diploma in commercial art from the St. John's College of Trades and Technology (1980) and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (1986).
Upon his return to Newfoundland, Evans found work at St. Michael's Printshop in downtown St. John's. He served as printer in residence and taught introductory classes in lithography. He specializes in the print form of stone lithography and has printed for many artists including Anne Meredith Barry, Christopher Pratt, Harold Klunder, and Otis Tamasauskas. In 1992, he became a Master Printmaker and earned his 'chop' - an embossed seal that signifies his mastery of the craft. That same year, he also received a Bachelor of Education from the Memorial University of Newfoundland.
The predominant theme in Evans's art is his Mi'kmaq heritage, which went unrecognized by his family for nearly three generations. After Evans learned about his Mi'kmaq ancestors in the mid-1980s, his focus on aboriginal issues has become an integral part of his life and artwork. According to Evans, "the truth has a way of getting out and I've come full circle. I've taken on this discovery with an intense desire to find out more... that's what I'm exploring in my art. My artwork reflects my concerns with the aboriginal part of me that was denied" (Arts Atlantic, Spring 1998).
In 1996, the St. John's Native Friendship Centre and the Christina Parker Gallery hired Evans to curate First, an exhibition of contemporary works by 46 aboriginal artists from Newfoundland and Labrador. The exhibition's full-colour publication contained the artists' statements and essays by anthropologists and aboriginal elders, all written in English and in the aboriginal language of the artist.
Evans has received many honours for his work. He has won several awards from the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts and Letters Competition, and his art has been exhibited nationally and internationally. He was artist in residence at the Sir Wilfred Grenfell Art College at Corner Brook (1996), at the Belfast Print Workshop in Northern Ireland (1997), and at the Malaspina Printmakers Society at Vancouver, British Columbia (2000). In 2010, he created art for the Vancouver Winter Olympics.
In addition to printmaking and painting, Evans became interested in filmmaking while in his 40s. In 2009, he released the short film Red Ochre: Mekwisiqwan, based on his experiences growing up Mi'kmaq in Newfoundland, while living in a culture of denial.
Evans's artwork is represented in collections across Canada and the world, including The Rooms Provincial Art Gallery's Permanent Collection, the Canadian Native Arts Foundation, the Canada Council Art Bank, the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Miawpukek Mi'kamawey Mawi'omi, and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Updated July, 2013