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Alumni News

Aboriginal Alumni Bring Traditional Messages to Modern Art

November 03, 2011

Alumni expressed their aboriginal roots at the Many Voices art exhibit at the Sheridan Gallery last month. The first of its kind for Sheridan, the exhibit featured five participants whose work views traditional aboriginal values through a modern lens. Alana MacLeod (Applied Photography 2005 and Textile Design 2010), Tannis Nielsen (Art and Art History 2002) and Amanda Strong (Applied Photography 2005).

Alana McLeod - Applied Photography (2005) and Textile Design (2010)

Alana is a textile maker and designer of Cree and Scottish descent living in Toronto. In 2008, Alana was awarded a National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation scholarship.

Combining her loves of photography and textiles, Alana uses imagery from her heritage including the Northern Ontario landscape to create textile-based art. “Coming from a family of fur traders, wilderness tour guides, hunters and quilt makers, I choose natural materials for their authenticity, quality and sustainability,” says Alana. “Working with textiles is my vehicle for learning and personal growth. I am free to explore anything I wish with this medium. I think textiles represents a simpler time before plastics and computers,” she adds.

Tannis Nielsen – Art and Art History 2002


Tannis Nielsen is a Cree, Danish, Métis who was born in Red Deer, Alberta. Tannis, who also holds a Masters of Visual Studies degree from the University of Toronto, is a professional artist and educator who teaches a variety of courses centred on contemporary aboriginal art at the Ontario College of Art and Design. She is also a member of the Toronto Native Community History Project and a former Aboriginal advisor to the Toronto District School Board.

Tannis Nielsen CutTannis Nielsen, Cut!

 Alana McLeod Train Quilt Nov OOL Alana McLeod, Train Quilt 2010

Gordon Miller is an Oakville-based artist of Ojibway and Cree heritage who attended Sheridan. Using bright, vibrant colours, he takes a more contemporary view of aboriginal art to make it more accessible and enjoyable for today’s art audience.

Gordon Miller Caribou
Gordon Miller, Caribou