Alan Syliboy: The Journey So Far

9 May – 11 August, 2024
Dalhousie Art Gallery

Alan Syliboy, Home, 1999, pencil and acrylic on paper. Collection of Marcia Hennessy. 


Alan Syliboy, Star and Four Direction Whales, 2022. Collection of Dalhousie Art Gallery.

A Retrospective 

This survey exhibition unveils the extraordinary creative odyssey of artist Alan Syliboy. Born and raised on Millbrook First Nation, this comprehensive showcase explores Syliboy's remarkable career in Mi’kma’ki and beyond through a range of diverse works - from painting, print, drums, mixed media to video, music and in this instance, a specially commissioned wall mural. His signature style, characterized by bold colors, intricate patterns and layered abstracted elements, illuminates the stories of Mi'kmaq history, spirituality, and the enduring connection between the land, her people and the cosmos surrounding us.

Throughout a career which spans more than fifty years, Syliboy has worked tirelessly to bridge the gap between traditional Mi'kmaq art and contemporary artistic practices. His distinctive artmaking serves as a testament to his adept use of recurring symbols, figures and motifs drawn from the Indigenous petroglyphs (rock etchings) of his ancestors, as well as rich quill weaving traditions and stories that have been passed down through generations.

A significant highlight of the show is the inclusion of selected works from a long-time private collector, Marcia Hennessy, who was an ardent supporter of Syliboy's artistic career for over three decades, amassing a collection of nearly 100 works over her lifetime. This segment of the show will provide a unique opportunity for viewers to trace Syliboy's artistic journey, witness his growth and experimentation, and gain a deeper understanding of the enduring relationship between collector and artist.

This survey presents an opportunity to shine a light on Alan Syliboy's important creative practice that effectively transmits traditional knowledge, preserving that knowledge from the past to connect with the present and inform future generations.

Press Release