Resurgence of the People

Kent Monkman

Resurgence of the People

2019
With these large-scale paintings really what I’m trying to do is to authorize indigenous experience both historic and contemporary into this canon of art history. We’ve been erased from the art history of this continent.”
Kent Monkman

This is Resurgence of the People, created by Cree artist Kent Monkman, one of Canada's most famous living artists. It was commissioned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and first exhibited inside the museum’s Great Hall.

Kent Monkman, standing in his studio.
Kent Monkman in his studio
An Indigenous group canoeing with military men in the background.

At 11 feet by 22 feet, the painting is monumental in size. It’s actually one half of a diptych — an artwork in two parts — called mistikôsiwak, which means “wooden boat people.”

Resurgence pictures a present-day scene with a crowded boat navigating stormy waters, while its partner painting, Welcoming the Newcomers, shows a moment from the past as Indigenous people greet European settlers on the shore of what’s now North America.

Like so much of Monkman's work, these paintings challenge the colonial view of history by offering an Indigenous perspective. They suggest that some of the stories we’ve been told are incomplete, inaccurate, or worse.

What do you see first?

In a painting like Resurgence of the People, there’s a lot to take in at once.
Come along as we break it all down.

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