Installation view of David J. Brooks, Lifeforce, 2014, Acrylic on canvas, 153.0 x 127.0 cm. Purchased with funds provided by the Fred and Elizabeth Fountain Endowment for Contemporary Art and the Rowland and Margo Marshall Endowment, 2014. On view in the Nova Scotia Spotlight at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.

Nova Scotia Spotlight: David Brooks

Saturday, 21 December 2019 to Sunday, 8 March 2020

David J. Brooks was the first Mi'kmaw artist whose work was collected by the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia (Migration, acquired in 1990). Born in 1950 in Truro, Nova Scotia, Brooks was raised and lived in Sipekne'katic First Nation (Indian Brook), Nova Scotia for most of his life. While living in Toronto in the 1980s, he met fellow Mi'kmaw artist Phillip Young, from whom he received much of his initial training. Within a few years, Brooks began to exhibit in multiple public and private collections throughout North America.

Lifeforce was one of the last works created by Brooks before his passing in 2014. Moving away from his earlier work that was heavily influenced by the Eastern Woodland style, this piece displays a more modern style through his use of vibrant colours, decisive lines, and geometric and abstract forms.

Brooks also began to reflect on identity and personal expression through his more recent work, drawing heavily on Mi'kmaw legends for inspiration based on stories shared with him by his Elders. Lifeforce uses visual language to compile a universal portrait, helping us understand the many complexities that not only make up who we are as individuals, but how we collectively interact with one another and the world around us.


The Nova Scotia Spotlight series highlights recent acquisitions to the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia’s Permanent Collection by artists contributing to the province’s cultural heritage. With support from Michelin North America (Canada) Inc. and the Donald R. Sobey Family Foundation in Memory of Robert W. M. Manuge.

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