Rick Rivet

I was born November 10, 1949 in Aklavik, Northwest Territories, part of the Canadian Arctic. Aklavik is situated at about 68 degrees north latitude in the Mackenzie River Delta, well above the Arctic Circle in the Beaufort Sea area.

My early years were spent growing up in the delta in a Metis family which made their living by trapping, hunting and fishing.

The Metis are a people of mixed heritage, a combination of Native Indian and European stock. The Metis were originally settled in the prairies of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and parts of British Columbia. They are people descended from the influx of French, Scottish and English traders from the Hudson’s Bay and Northwest Companies who intermixed with Native peoples of these regions and elsewhere across Canada.

The Metis are at present a composite of Native and European ancestry generally , including the above historical backgrounds. Many are heirs of the people who participated in the Metis rebellions in Manitoba and Saskatchewan during 1870 and again in 1885, people who tried to protect their land and way of life in the face of colonialism.

Aklavik was a trading centre for the region, with people of varied backgrounds congregating there such as Metis, Indian, Inuit and European. Whaling was an important industry just to the North and West until the end of the nineteenth century.

My family lived on the land and in town depending on the season. At age seven I began attending school in Aklavik with other students from the region, a crosscultural experience to say the least.

When Inuvik was established as the regional economic centre of the Mackenzie Delta and area in the nineteen fifties, we moved there to live so I continued my schooling in this modern town. After finishing highschool I journeyed south in 1969 to attend university, later travelling across Canada and working at various jobs such as surveying, roofing, oilrig work, mining and prospecting.

My post-secondary education concentrated on art, history, and the humanities. I have four degrees from three universities. Listed as follows are the degrees and institutions.

  • Bachelor of Arts – 1969-72 – University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta. {general arts}
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts – 1976-80 – University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia. {painting major, printmaking minor, art history minor}
  • Painting Scholarship –1980-81 – The Banff Centre, Banff Alberta. {studio painting, drawing}
  • Master of Fine Arts – 1983-85 – University of Saskatchewan,Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. {graduate studies- painting major, drawing minor, art history.- thesis title- ‘Creativity’}
  • Bachelor of Education – 1985-86 – University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. {art major, english minor}

Since 1989 I have worked fulltime on my artwork, mainly concentrating in acrylic painting, mixed media and collage on canvas, with some drawing. My art is exhibited nationally and internationally.

Influences in my artwork are varied and derive from Shamanistic imagery of ancient peoples the world over (North American Indian, Inuit, Australian Aborigine, Norse, Oceanic, Siberian and so forth). Equally influential are Western and Contemporary influences from various artists and art movements (Edvard Munch, German Expressionism, Abstract Expressionism, Antoni Tapies, Paterson Ewen, Robert Rauschenberg, John Dubuffet, David Milne, Art Povera, Art Informel, J..M.W. Turner, Paul Klee, Kathe Kolwitz and Primitivist Art) to name a few.

My work involves combining and re-interpreting the iconography of various aboriginal peoples in a contemporary perspective. The art is intuitive, expressionistic and individualistic in means and method. The approach is Expressionist/Primitivist with concerns related to aspects of my Native-Canadian reality and viewpoint. These concerns are expressed in two ways – in relation to the shamanistic/spiritual tradition and the historical/cultural/socio-political/eco-environmental viewpoint in the examination of issues related to my experience. The approach is introspective, involving the existential nature of being – the spiritual, the psychic and the physical aspects of human experience.

My art is eclectic in that both approaches are influenced by traditional symbolism and imagery along with contemporary ideas and techniques in the manipulation of visual imagery and artist materials. Elements from the two approaches are often incorporated together.

My art explores mark-making, colour, shape, texture, line, volume, figure-ground interaction and other formal relationships; paint and collage as part of process; draughtsmanship within painting and by itself; graphic qualities from printmaking experience; symbolic imagery in a contemporary context; and various other elements of visual art as language/process.

In my art I seek poetic expression – a visual language which uses the visible universe as a metaphor for the invisible, a communication between the world and the spirit, a mystical relationship between physical/metaphysical realities.The context is the human existential journey through the matter/space/time continuum.

Creative art is the result of a process of integration and actualization of conscious/unconscious experience, a transformative process which gives form to artistic vision.

My work aspires to the spiritual, to the recovery of the main tradition of creativity. The encounter with shamanic ideology and culture compels the contemporary artist to admit to the binding ties of a common spiritual heritage. The creative experience and it’s profound link to the unconscious forces artists to confront the on-going history of the human spirit, with it’s echoes from pre-history to the present.