The artist was born a Cree in Fort Chipewyan in northern Alberta in 1951. Orphaned at six years with the death of her mother from tuberculosis, she was raised in Edmonton by Marguerite Runck, an elderly German lady, at a time when “people did not take too kindly to Indians.” She was also raised in the Catholic church, and with an atmosphere of prayer, dreams, and spirits imparted to her by this woman she affectionately refers to as “Grandma.” Her upbringing this had a strong spiritual component, which facilitated the transition to a Native spirituality in the artist’s adult life. Her schooling was not a residential school experience, but rather a conventional school situation with its presentation of a distinctly non-Native perspective coincided with her development as an artist.
Although her initial training was as an microbiologist, she followed her Bachelor of Science Degree with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in printmaking, both at the University of Alberta, Edmonton. Poitras’ interest in this medium also took her to Yale University and then to Columbia University, New York, where she completed a Master of Fine Arts Degree in printmaking. It was here that she was introduced not only to collage, but to a non-Western aesthetic, by her most influential instructors who were of Japanese heritage.
©2000 Spirit Wrestler Gallery