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Joe Fafard

Joe Fafard was born in 1942 to French-Canadian parents in the small agricultural community of Ste. Marthe, Saskatchewan. He attended the University of Manitoba (BFA 1966) and Pennsylvania State University (MFA 1968). He was at the University of Saskatchewan, Regina from 1968-1974 and visiting lecturer at the University of California at Davis in 1980-1981.

Fafard is one of Canada’s leading professional visual artists and has exhibitions of a wide variety of work in galleries and museums across the country and around the world, including the United States, Great Britain, France and Japan. He is widely recognized as being at the forefront of his art, and his outstanding contributions to the arts have significantly raised the profile of both Saskatchewan and Canada on the national stage.

Fafard has received the following awards: Officer of the Order of Canada, 1981; Architectural Institute of Canada Allied Arts Award, 1987; honorary degree from the University of Regina, 1989, and from the University of Manitoba in 2007; Saskatchewan Order of Merit, 2002; National Prix Montfort, 2003; Lieutenant Governor’s Saskatchewan Centennial Medal for the Arts, 2005; CTV Citizen of the Year, 2006; Saskatchewan Arts Board Lifetime Achievement Award, 2007; and his third honorary doctorate from the University of Saskatchewan, 2012.

Perhaps the pinnacle of Fafard’s career was the touring retrospective exhibition hosted by six different venues, from September 2007 through September 2009, jointly organized by the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa and the Mackenzie Art Gallery in Regina. Most recently, Fafard was honoured by Canada Post in their “Art Canada” series of postage stamps, 2012. Three of his artworks are featured on the Canadian, US and international stamps.

In the early 1970s, much of Fafard’s sculpture used clay as a medium. In 1985, he shifted to bronze as his chief sculptural medium, successfully establishing a foundry in Pense. His insight and humour characterize his portraits of neighbours, farm animals, wildlife, and famous artists that he came to respect as he learned his craft. His work in bronze is displayed across Canada and his cows have become one of his trademarks. Some say that Joe Fafard adds a sense of humour to his depiction of the everyday through his artwork; Joe says that he never really took it out.