Kris Nahrgang’s art is a continuation of the spirit and tradition of rock and story pole carving. His style has a balance of innovative, modern and traditional elements which have led to a growing recognition of his work across Canada and the world. His work has been noted in art periodicals including Insight, Art Impression and Collectibles, as well as MacLeans Magazine.
Kris Nahrgang is a multi-disciplinary artist working in wood, stone and traditional oil mediums. He is also an advocate for the rights of First Nations communities in Ontario and has liaised between Native and non-native groups with respect to archaeology since 2000. Kris Nahrgang is a Status, Mississauga Ojibway Indian – status held at Curve Lake.
Kris’ art embraces the spirit and tradition of rock and totem carving. His style has a balance of innovative, modern and traditional elements which have led to a growing recognition of his work across Canada and the world. His work has been noted in art periodicals including Insight, Art Impression and Collectibles, as well as MacLean’s Magazine.
Mr. Nahrgang has worked closely with underwater archaeologists at Parks Canada, and has served as a member of the advisory committee struck by the Ministry of Culture contributing to new archaeological assessment technical guidelines. He consults widely with First Nations on matters relating to the protection of Aboriginal cultural heritage.
In 2017 Kris was commissioned by the Canadian National Exhibition to produce a 36’ UNITY POLE (Totem). The Pole was unveiled at the CNE in August of 2017, receiving national and international acclaim. The Unity Pole was the CNE Association’s first Indigenous Art acquisition and currently stands in front of the Press Building on the CNE grounds.
Kris is the co-creator/producer of “Future History”, a documentary series that challenges the colonial narrative and celebrates the reclamation of Indigenous knowledge and identity.
1981 – Native Law Program, University of Saskatoon, BA Equivalency for Law School, Completed
1982 – Osgood Hall Law School, York University, One Year
1991-1992 – Social Service Diploma, Sir Sanford Fleming College, Peterborough, Ontario, Completed
2001-2004 – Hon. BA., Anthropology Program, Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario. Nine Credits Completed.
Elected Chief of Kawartha Nishnawbe First Nations (retired)
Archaeological Liaison Curve Lake First Nation Native 2001-2002
Archeological Liaison for Alderville First Nation Native 2002-2004
Archaeological Liaison for Scugog Island First Nations 2003-2007
Native Liaison Officer for Trent University 2000-2005
Consulting Associate, Archaeological Services Inc., Toronto
RECENT JURIED ART SHOW HISTORY:
The Artists’ Commons – Withrow Commons Gallery – Toronto, ON
Buckhorn Wildlife/Fine Art Festival – Buckhorn, On
Kawartha Arts Festival – Fenelon Falls, On
Collingwood Art & Music Festival – Collingwood, On
Ottawa Art Expo – Ottawa, On
Purple Turtle Art Festival – Georgina, On
Art Walk, Polo for Heart – Vaughan, On
Chinese Cultural Centre – Canada 150 – Group Exhibition
Artworld Fine Art Gallery – Solo Exhibition – Toronto (October 2017)
Scugog Council for the Arts, “Focus on First Nations”, October 2014
Gallery on the Lake, August 2008
Northumberland Art Gallery, A Retrospective, 2001
Festival De Reviers, 50th Anniversary, Landings of Allies in Normandy, France, June 1994
Research License, Ministry of Culture, July 2006
Parks Canada/Trent Severn Waterway archaeological assessments on inundated lands, 2001-present
ACUC® Certified November, 1998 – present
The State of Archaeology and First Nations. Ontario Archaeology, Toronto, 2004. No. 73:1-9.
An Aboriginal Perspective. Before Ontario: The Archaeology of a Province, Montreal, 2013. 203-211.
2017-2019 – Executive Co-Producer and Host of “Future History” A documentary series about shifting the colonial narrative and celebrating the reclamation of indigenous knowledge and identity. Season 1 and 2 currently available to stream on CBC Gem
PENDING PROJECT – Public Art Installation for the newly designed Humber Bay Trails Park Project, Toronto, ON
Connected Future – pair of story poles – Daniels Corporation, Mississauga, ON
Unity Pole – Canadian National Exhibition, Toronto, ON
Spirit of the Earth Stone Sculpture – presented to former U.S. President George Bush
Reunion, Stone Sculpture – presented to the Duke of York, Prince Andrew
Trails of Nobility, Stone Sculpture – presented to His Royal Highness, Prince Charles
International Vision Calls – Stone Sculpture – presented to Nelson Mandela
Numerous private commissions
“Story poles are not entirely traditional to Anishnaabe people. “We did however, erect clan poles to honour our lineage. My poles reflect that tradition incorporating traditional clan symbols and contemporary images.” If the poles are finished with paint, the designs are ‘Woodland’ in style, with vibrant colours, and distinct lines. Story poles tell a story. Each symbol or totem on a pole represents a feeling, a person, an animal, a place, or a concept.”
Call to the Creator
This piece is created on a Red Deer Antler from New Zealand, and is mounted on a piece of Dolomite from the area.
It is carved following the images offered by the shape of the antlery, and flows to the sky as it sends its message to the creator.
The feather offers it a gentle reminder of how delicate our world is and catches the winds of the world as it watches over the piece.
This piece reflects the history of the caribou migration in Canada. A very important part of our past, present and future, the paths of these animals are ingrained in the landscape from millennia past. It is said that the Elk that have been introduced to my area (around Bancroft, Ontario) are following the ancient migration routes, even though the glaciers are gone and the landscapes have changed. The ancient routes are ingrained in their spirit, the DNA, their lifeblood. This is the story of their journey; the strength of their lifeblood and the instincts that it holds.
He is the head of his community. Like his Father before him, he leads his people through this world that is sometimes harsh and unforgiving. He makes decisions that are crucial to their survival, keeping them strong and successful. His choices are at times unpopular, but he is not out to make friends. He does have the respect of his family, his people and his enemies. His path is not an easy one, but he follows that same path of his Father in a meaningful way. He is certain that the Spirits approve.
The strength of the bear is legendary, and they will protect their loved ones to the death. I am reminded of this love daily though my Family, and closeness which will remain with me forever. This is a tribute to our loved ones, and gifts that they offer us.
Handcuffed by Treaty
Over time, the stories of our time of contact with the newcomers was kept by our Oral Tradition stories, and in many cases, by beading that held stories in Wampum.
This piece represents the engagement, and in many cases, commitments that were not realized, or truly understood.
Since this time we, as the People, have realized these untruths, and the consequences of the written words that have tied our hand as we try to navigate the Rights and lifestyle we once lived have been taken.
This piece reflects the words that have bound our Culture.
In Honour of Our Mothers
This sculpture was inspired by my daughter Jenna and the birth of my grandson this past year. As I gegan working on the stone, it occurred to me that a miracle, such as the birth of the next generation could just transpire before my eyes.Even more incredible is how it happens for people all around the world thousands of times daily. Titling this piece was a challenge as it speaks to so many things. How is life truly created, other than the act itself? It leaves me with the belief that our women ARE the “Creators”. Their powers to do so is not celebrated enough. I watch my grandson and see traits of all of the family members from both sides. It makes me believe that the ability of the women to blend this world into this child, is truly taken for granted in our busy jaded world. So in tribute to all women, I offer this work as a celebration of the creation of mankind, by these amazing women. Thank you.
This warrior competes with himself. It is his uncertainty and self-doubt. The demons inside hold him back, creating fear, taunting his ability. He is anxious he will not be successful. It takes everything in his being to be strong and hold them back, to be confident and not let his fears take over. I see thse inner struggles manifesting as fighting a serpent, a creature I have great distaste for. We all have our demons, doubts, fears, some we let take hold of our psyche and can be emotionally and physically crippling. It can be a constant struggle to find balance and peace.
As one walks upon our life journey, we find ourselves in situations that require reflection to get through periods of our travels.
Transformation occurs as we realize with age that it brings pain, which brings reflection, which brings healing, and in the end we have transformation….
As the past leaves the spirit, it goes with a calming influence, and the years of wisdom offer clarity and excitement as we transition into the next stage of life.
As a butterfly transitions to beauty, from the existence of a caterpillar, so do we in spirit as a new untouched beginning comes forth
At the time of the great flood Nanabush was floating upon the great waters with all of the Creatures floating around his canoe. He explained that he needed some earth from the bottom on the waters to be placed on the backs of the Turtle to rebuild Mother Earth.
All of the larger creatures swam to the bottom to retrieve the soil, finding that it was too far down, they all returned with empty hands. The Muskrat, the smallest of the all said he would try, and all of the larger Creatures laughed at him, but with that he headed for the bottom with his mission in mind.
After a small eternity, The Muskrat floated to the surface, yet he had drowned. In his small paw was dirt from Mother Earth which had been covered by the flood. Nanabush took the soil from his small hand, and placed it on the back of the Turtle, and re-created the world.
The Muskrat gave his life to bring the world back to life.
Spirit of the Family
When I began this piece, I do as always, and let what affects me move through me, and into the piece.
This piece was inspired by a story of a family that I know, and consider friends. It is a story of personal sacrifice, as a family to help another family member who was ill. What it was, and who they are, is not the story. The story is one of a concerted effort of family to help one of their own.
This piece is represented by the faces of a family, of different ages, and the blending of their determination to change a situation.
The Eagle is their Guardian Spirit, that watched over their situation, and sends strength to them during this time.
The Wampum beads hold their story, past, present, and future for all of them to see.
The fist represents the inner strength of their commitment to their loved ones.
The inspiration comes from this story, but it also comes from my life, and I am sure many of us that have pulled together to accomplish a task of our own.
This is the “Spirit of family”, and an inspiration to us all.
What was once hard water turns into a slithering snake, trickling then rushing to its destination. Trees, shrubs and grass spring alive with buds, blooms and the movement of those awakening within them. All beings shake off the chill of the winter and prepare for the season. It is a time of plenty. The People return from their more solitary winter’s existence to come together with their community. It is a time of Harvest.
They collect the fish, plentiful during the spawn, drying it for the seasons ahead. They come together to celebrate life, the reunion of families and allies, a time of marriage and growing families. The Creator and the Ancestors watch over the People, guiding them. This is the way it has been since man walked Mother Earth, this ritual of reunion & renewal.
To Watch Over Me
I don’t carve a lot of Great Horned owls, but I was thinking my Grandmother as I worked on this piece. She went to the next world many years ago, but she was always there when I needed her, and this reminded me of a story of her.
I was at a Pow Wow, close to her home, when my daughter brought me a feather she had found at school. She told me it was mine, and when I asked how she knew this, she said she knew as soon as she went to pick it up. She was around 8 years old at the time.
I put it in a safe place, and took it to the sacred fire that night to have it blessed. As we were discussing just what kind of feather it was, a Great Horned Owl flew through the top of the fire, right over us all, and into the darkness.
At that moment, I knew it was her, protecting, and helping with my needs at that time in my life. She was looking out for me.
It turned out that it was also the 1 year anniversary of her passing to the Spirit world, and for whatever reason I am glad she has returned for a visit.
I offer this piece to the world, and pass on this energy of Spirit with it.
Thank you Grandmother, it was such an honor to have you with me again.
We Never Walk Alone
Although life is a solitary event, with many that join us along the way. At times, we walk these paths on our own, even when surrounded by others.
It seems to me that we are never alone, as the energy, spirit, and memories of loved ones, past, present, and future, are always somewhere around us.
The remembering of a missed ones touch as a child, or the last time you had time with a special person carries with us forever, and we in turn pass it on to others as we walk this road called life.
We will at many times in our lives be lonely, but if we can recall these special moments in time, we will never be alone….