Mike MacDonald (1941 - July 17, 2006).
Born in Sydney, Nova Scotia, Mike MacDonald was of Mi’kmaq ancestry. Mike drove across Canada every year working as a video installation artist and gardener in addition to pursuing photography and new media projects. Self-taught, he focused on the environment, incorporating plants and animals in his artworks. He found inspiration in both his aboriginal ancestry and Western sources, drawing from science as well as traditional medicine and ethnobotany.
His works have been featured in exhibitions worldwide, at such venues as the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the Heard Museum (Phoenix, Arizona), and the Canadian Cultural Centre (Paris, France). In 1994, he was awarded the prestigious Jack and Doris Shadbolt Prize from the Vancouver Institute for Visual Arts, and in 2000 he received the first Aboriginal Achievement Award for New Media presented at the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival.
MacDonald’s most renowned projects include the butterfly gardens he planted across Canada beginning in the early 1990s. They are tactile living examples of his devotion to and admiration of the environment.Inspiration to create the gardens can be seen in his video installation works, most notably in Touched by the Tears of a Butterfly (1994). This installation features silent videotape in a loop projected in front of a set of rocking chairs. The video follows the life of a butterfly, from its existence as a caterpillar until it bursts from its cocoon as a colorful winged insect.
MacDonald has also been recognized for presenting some of the most touching installations on Aboriginal heritage and community. For example, Electronic Totem (1987) showcased a stack of five video monitors, one on top of the other, depicting the contemporary life of an Aboriginal community in British Columbia.
Mike's careful, positive storytelling, as well as his tender regard for nature and the quiet goings-on of the butterfly, built him a reputation as one of the more significant contemporary artists in Canada.
Artist Code: 028
1999, 59:30 minutes, colour, Silent
1995, 14:30 minutes, colour
1990, 10:00 minutes, colour, silent
1989, 55:00 minutes, English
1987, 20:00 minutes, Colour, English
1985, 28:00 minutes, colour, English
1981, 60:00 minutes, colour
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