Maxine Noel is an extremely gifted artist, internationally renowned for her exquisite fluid lines, vivid imagery and subtle colours.
For Noel, “Art is the purest and truest expression of an individual. in it are all manners of things one is not always able to express verbally.”
A visionary elder gave Maxine Noel her Sioux name – Ioyan Mani – shortly after birth. It means to walk beyond and walk beyond she does. Maxine Noel is a Santee Oglala Sioux, born in 1946 on the Birdtail Reserve in southwestern Manitoba. The eldest of 11 children, she spent her early childhood amidst the positive reinforcements of a loving mother and grandmother on a quiet reserve. There she learned how to draw. Residential school was a part of every young Aboriginal person’s life, bringing with it the struggles of submersion of the native spirituality and culture. Maxine feels that strength, enrichment and positive results came from the struggle.
While working for over a decade as a legal secretary in Edmonton and Toronto, Maxine continued with her art. While working as acoordinator at a Native Friendship Centre in Northern Ontario, she was encouraged by a fellow Aboriginal artist to show her work to a Toronto art dealer. Her career as an artist had begun. Since that first one-person exhibition in 1980, Maxine has participated in many exhibitions.
With her experience in design, painting, etching, serigraphy, stone lithography and cast paper, Maxine Noel is able to use a wide range of media. Her subjects are young mothers, dancers, lovers and animals of the plains. The strength and freedom she closely identifies with are depicted in her two favorite subjects, the eagle and the hawk. Maxine’s use of fluid images, flowing lines and subtle colours represent the essential characteristics of the Aboriginal people – their sensibilities, generosity and loving nature. Her presentation is fresh and distinctly modern with mystical and spiritual qualities. The flowing lines indicate strength and serenity while the simplicity of composition and abstraction give her paintings a unique character.
Her images have been commissioned to grace walls in private and corporate collections, as well as reports, books, magazines and calendars.
Maxine was one of the first artists to work with the Canada and Africa Twinning programs with ISAID and CUSO, contributing both time and images.
It is her strong commitment to her culture that involves her in work with the Native Earth Performing Arts, the Canadian Native Arts Foundation and the Association for Native Development in the Performing and Visual Arts. She works actively as a board member, consultant, artistic director and artist; she has lectured and been a panel member at the Saskatchewan School of Fine Arts, the University of Western Ontario and the native program at the Ontario College of Art.
Maxine Noel believes that there is a common denominator in all cultures of the world. With that ideal in mind, she has participated in video productions as well as television and radio interviews which act as tools to assist in bridging the gap between Aboriginals and non-Aboriginals, both young and old. Her dedication, commitment, strength and self-determination make her an invaluable role model for all.
In her own words, Ioyan Mani said, “There comes a time in life when knowing oneself seems to magically fall into place, where life is less of a struggle and we make a place for peace and joy in our lives. This is that time in my life. I have never felt better about who and where I am. When I was born a visionary elder gave me my Sioux name ‘Walk Beyond.’ I feel that through my painting I have been able to honour that gift.”