First Nations artist, Noah Sainnawap [1954 - 2005] passed away in the spring of this year. His unique abstract style and blending of Woodland references in his artwork made Sainnawap painting truly unique
He had been quoted as saying “my paintings have no stories, I paint the way I feel and don’t like to dwell in the past.
The past for Noah began in Pickle Crow, Ontario, where he was born December 25, 1954. Noah came from a Cree family (father Zacharias of Big Trout; mother Sarah of Moosonee) and was a member of the Osnaburgh Band. His northern life and nomadic wonderings took him across Canada. His work is represented in many collections, including the Thunder Bay Art Gallery, Royal Ontario Museum [Toronto], McMichael Canadian Art Collection [Kleinberg], University of Winnipeg Anthropology Department, Vancouver Planetarium and numerous other public and private collections. Internationally, Noah had said he sold works to collectors in Europe, the United States and the Caribbean.
In the early 80’s, Sainnawap was a familiar figure in Thunder Bay, often accompanied by fellow artist Sam Ash. Together they created and sold their paintings -- Sainnawap often being the spokesperson for Ash (a deaf mute from birth). During the early 70’s, Noah used the name Noah Brown, but shortly afterwards discovered his Cree surname and began using it.
His paintings can be signed Noah Sainnawap, or Noah Brown. He also used Cree Syllabics, and earlier works may have his identifier, which closely looks like 6‚▲ < e >>. Sainnawap was influenced to explore his artistic inclinations that began at age 16, through portraiture and landscapes. Later the images of works by Picasso, and the Norval Morrisseau book published by Pollack, further inspired him.
He adapted and evolved stylistically. Noah also credited his artistic talent from his father, who sketched animals and northern reserve images, and his mother, who designed beadwork and made birch bark bitings, as her mother before her had done. Noah constantly battled with a life out of control and spent much of his time physically divorced from his family and society, struggling with his artistic need to create and express himself through his work.
If it is Noah‚ work that now speaks for him, not unlike the way he spoke for his fellow artist Sam Ash, Noah symbols and images can carry us in to look at his life where dreams are dreamed, and hear him say “I don’t want to be put into any category, because I paint the way I feel.
Also known as Noah Brown - Native name is Wolverine
Cree born in Pickle Lake, Ontario in 1954.
His artwork was included in the publication "Legends from the Forest"
by Chief Thomas Fiddler, Edited by James R. Stevens and translated by
Edtripo Fiddler, Published by Penumbra Press, 1985.