About the Artist
Photo: At the "Redress: Sacred Obligation - Indigenous Voices on Reconciliation" exhibition at the Two Rivers Gallery
in Prince George, BC 2019, photo by Natika Bock.
Mike Alexander is an Anishinaabe artist from Swan Lake First Nation in Treaty #1 territory in Manitoba, now relocated to his new home in Squamish, BC, Canada. He is the son of the Diane Tukundum (Swan Lake) and Norman Courchene (Sagkeeng)
Mike launched his journey as an emerging artist at the age of 40. His unique and original ink drawings were inspired by symbolism of his Ojibway roots as well as his life-long appreciation for high contrast black and white ink drawings.
This passion led Mike to his first solo exhibition, a show devoted to his ink drawings in late 2017 in Victoria.
In the spring of 2018, Mike was awarded his first small grant from the First Peoples' Cultural Council. He was able to connect with and enter into a mentorship with Artist in Residence for the City of Victoria, Lindsay Delaronde.
In 2019, Mike had his second, third solo exhibitions opened at the Old Courthouse Gallery in Kamloops, BC, and at the United Way Thompson Nicola-Caribou office in Kamloops. Mike designed and made shirts in support of Orange Shirt Day, an occasion honoring residential school survivors across Canada and this design was very well received in Kamloops and the BC Interior.
Also in 2019, Mike received a $10,000 grant from the First People's Cultural Council to produce a graphic novel that he has written and is currently in a perpetual state of editing. Titled "Last Night on Earth", he hopes to have his comics published one day.
In addition to the visual arts, Mike is a writer. His poetry has appeared in the Malahat Review, and in late 2019, he published an article for Visons, BC's award-winning mental health and substance use Journal. Read it here. He is also a contributing writer for Broadview Magazine.
In 2020, his first Vancouver, BC art show, Internal Landscapes at Massy Books. He followed that up with a two week Artist In Residency at the OU Gallery, also in Duncan.
In November 2020, Mike was selected as a recipient of a $30,000 grant from the BC Arts Council to become an apprentice to Anishinaabe master Woodlands artist Mark Anthony Jacobson. Mark mentored under Norval Morrisseau and is a gifted and internationally collected Ojibway artist.
In 2021, he continued his apprenticeship with Mark thanks to a $34,500 grant from the Canada Council for the Arts. He had another solo exhibition at Massy Gallery and continued to paint on a full time basis.
In January 2022, Mike began a three-year Artist residency at Skwachays Lodge in Vancouver. He has been a part of a group show at Skwachays and accepted his first large commissions from corporate clients including Rio Tinto Mining and Accenture.
This year, Mike's work will be seen at Science World in Vancouver, the Life Sciences department of UBC and as part of an upcoming exhibition at the Bill Reid Gallery in October 2023.
His work has appeared in a handful of group exhibitions at galleries in Calgary, Toronto, and Prince George, and he has become an internationally collected artist.
Mike is a second generation Residential School survivor and a Sixties Scoop Survivor. His art depicts images motivated by his personal healing journey, his reconnection to his family and culture, as well as his evolving understanding of the interconnectedness between all life according to the Seven Teachings.
“Culture is the widening of the mind and of the spirit.” –Jawaharlal Nehru