Rick Rivet’s powerful abstract series of paintings called Northwest Passage depict the doomed Franklin Expedition in the Arctic. In 1845 a British expedition led by Captain Sir John Franklin sailed into the treacherous icy waters to explore the Passage as a possible new trading route to Asia. It ended in tragedy when the ships became ice bound. Two dozen passengers died including Franklin who’d ignored the warnings of the local indigenous population. Rendered in a striking palette—a black half canoe—the outline of a body inside (a funerary symbol) floats between a red mound and the moon through a deep blue space that suggests peace. A single line snakes through the red water representing the failed route. This painting was exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts in Sante Fe in 2023.
“I feel that my themes and the character of the work reflect a more universal interest which cannot be constricted within the narrow confines of terms such as ‘Western’, ‘Native’, ‘Hybrid’ or what have you. My art represents aspects of my own culture and history personally, and in the wider archetypal sense, includes all common human experience.” Rick Rivet
Richard James Rivet was born in Aklavik in the Northwest Territories. He grew up on the land and his family lived by trapping, hunting and fishing. Rivet has four degrees from three universities. He completed his MFA at the U. of Saskatchewan in 1989 and began creating art full time. Rivet has been the recipient of more than twenty awards, scholarships and bursaries including a Fellowship from the Eiteljorg Museum in Indianapolis, and the Andy Warhol Foundation Fellowship Residency Program for the Heard Museum in Phoenix. His work is held in private, corporate, and public collections in Canada and the US.