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 was born in Grand Falls, Newfoundland, in 1961. In 1980, he received a diploma in commercial art from the College of Trades and Technology in St. John's, Newfoundland, and then went on to receive a bachelor of fine arts from Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in 1986.
Evans earned his ‘chop', an embossed symbol signifying his experience as a master printmaker, in 1992. This same year he completed an education degree from Memorial University of Newfoundland. Evans has instructed introductory classes in lithography at St. Michael's Printshop and has printed for many artists including Anne Meredith Barry, Christopher Pratt, Harold Klunder and Otis Tamasauskas.
To date, the predominant theme in both Evans' life and art is his Mi'kmaq heritage which went unrecognized by his family for nearly three generations. Since confirmation of this heritage in the mid-eighties, his focus on aboriginal issues has become an integral part of his life's work. Evans reflects on this personal committment: "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" (in First Impressions, by Gloria Hickey, 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 contains not only the artists' statements but also essays by anthropologists and aboriginal elders, all written in English and in the specific aboriginal language of the artist.
In addition to being part of the Art Gallery of Newfoundland and Labrador's Permanent Collection, Evans' art work is represented in collections across Canada, including the Canadian Native Arts Foundation, The Canada Council Art Bank, the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador.