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Join the Art Gallery of Guelph for the launch of Yours in Native Spirit: Richard Bedwash

The Art Gallery of Guelph is pleased to invite the public to the opening reception for the exhibition Yours in Native Spirit: Richard Bedwash, on Thursday, June 13, 2024.

Guelph, ON – June 10, 2024 – The Art Gallery of Guelph is pleased to invite the public to the opening reception for the exhibition Yours in Native Spirit: Richard Bedwash on Thursday, June 13, 2024. The event begins at 6:30 pm and features free admission and refreshments, with a cash bar available.

This compelling exhibition showcases the work of the late Anishinaabe artist Richard Bedwash, focusing on paintings created during his incarceration at the Guelph Correctional Centre. Through his artwork, the exhibition explores the profound connection between Bedwash’s life experiences and the city of Guelph.

Born in 1936 on Long Lac Reserve #58, Bedwash’s early life was deeply rooted in traditional Ojibwe teachings until he was sent to St. Joseph’s Residential School in Thunder Bay at age 7. Returning to the reserve at 12, Bedwash’s experiences fueled his artistic journey, notably his apprenticeship with renowned artist Norval Morrisseau from 1966 to 1968. Bedwash developed a unique approach to the Woodland style, characterized by bold, pure colours and black lines used to convey traditional stories and beliefs.

In 2023, Bedwash’s work gained renewed attention in Guelph, as murals attributed to the artist at the Guelph Correctional Centre remain at risk within the deteriorating structure. The murals, a significant aspect of Bedwash’s legacy, were created in the 1970s during his involvement with the Native Sons, a grassroots organization founded by Indigenous inmates.

Arend Nieuwland, the prison arts program’s art director, championed creative activity as essential to rehabilitation. In 1977, the Native Sons published a collection of poetry featuring Bedwash’s drawings, two of which are handpainted on walls within the exhibition. Judith Nasby, the founding Director of the Macdonald Stewart Art Centre (now the Art Gallery of Guelph), maintained a correspondence with Bedwash, commissioning a series of paintings that formed the basis of his first solo exhibition and remain in the gallery’s collection. Each of his letters, written in elegant script, were signed “Yours in Native spirit, Richard Bedwash.”

In addition to this exhibition, the Art Gallery of Guelph’s summer season features the exhibitions Catherine Chan: Fractures and Futures, Paul Nadeau: Gravel is the New Gold, and What Remains. For more information, read more >

Accessible parking and a limited number of free parking spots are available beside and behind the gallery, accessible from Gordon Street, just north of College Avenue. Additional free parking is available after 5 pm in the University of Guelph campus parking lot P23, accessible from College Avenue and MacDonald Street.

About the Art Gallery of Guelph

The Art Gallery of Guelph (AGG) is one of Canada’s premier public art spaces, engaging audiences with innovative artists and ideas from around the world. Through a rigorous and collaborative artistic program that positions visual culture in an ever-changing cultural landscape, the gallery supports social exchange and shapes public discourse. Located in one of Canada’s leading innovation-rich and socially engaged urban environments, the gallery offers compelling artistic encounters and contributes to a thriving national artistic climate through global connections that foster and proliferate creativity and imagination. For more information, please visit

Media Contact

Nicole Neufeld
Community Engagement Coordinator
519-837-0010 ext. 2

 Image detail: Richard Bedwash, Man Changing Into Thunderbird (detail), 1983, acrylic on canvas. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Stafford Yake, 1986. University of Guelph Collection at the Art Gallery of Guelph


This program is organized and presented by the Art Gallery of Guelph with the support of the Ontario Arts Council and Canada Council for the Arts.

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