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MERASTY, Angelique

Beaver Lake, Saskatchewan, 1924
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, 1996
Biography synopsis
Angelique Merasty was born in Beaver Lake, Saskatchewan. Merasty's mother, Susan Ballantyne, taught her the ancient art form of birch bark biting (or 'wigwas'). Bark biting is a Cree process, traditionally practiced by women, in which thin white sheets of bark from birch trees are perforated by the artist's teeth, creating complex preconceived patterns and designs. Merasty's drawings include pictures of flowers, bees, plants and animals laid out in symmetrical patterns. Her work has been showcased in several Canadian museums, including the Museum of Man and Nature (1980) and the Thunder Bay National Exhibition Centre and Centre for Indian Art (1983). Bark biting is very rarely practiced today because few artists have learned the necessary biting techniques. Merasty, however, passed on her knowledge of bark biting to contemporary Manitoba artist Angelique Merasty Levac.
Media used
Wood carving
File & Archive locations
Fort Lewis College, CO - Center of Southwest Studies
University of Calgary Library, AB
National Gallery of Canada, ON - Library and Archives
Art Gallery of Ontario - Edward P. Taylor Research Library and Archives
Thunder Bay Art Gallery, ON - Resource Centre
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts / Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal, QC
Winnipeg Art Gallery, MA - Clara Lander Library
Canadian Museum of Civilization Archives, QC
Trent University Archives, ON
Artexte Information Centre, QC - Documentation Centre
Canadian Women Artists History Initiative Documentation Centre, QC

Writings about
"Angelique Merasty." 2010
"Artist Bit Birch (Obituary)." Globe and Mail (20 Jan. 1996): C15.
"Birch Bark Artist Gets Long in the Tooth." Thunder Bay Times News (14 Jan. 1982).
"Birch-Bark Biting Artist Angelique Merasty, 66 (Obituary)." Toronto Star (21 Jan. 1996): F7.
"Birch-Bark Biting Artist Dies of Heart Attack." Canadian Press NewsWire (18 Jan. 1996).
"Crafts, Folk Art and Ethnic Culture: Angelique Merasty." Saskatchewan Indian 10.5 (May 1980): 25.
"Merasty's Bite Turned Bark to Art (Obituary)." Calgary Herald (20 Jan. 1996): A11.
"North Loses Artist Famed for Her Birch-Bark Biting (Obituary)." Winnipeg Free Press (19 Jan. 1996): A8.
"Well-Known Birch Bark Artist Dies." Vancouver Sun (20 Jan. 1996): B6.
Bataille, Gretchen. Native American Women : A Biographical Dictionary. New York: Routledge, 2001.
Belshaw, Linda. Graphex 5. Brantford, Ontario: Art Gallery of Brant, (1977): 24.
Byfield, Bruce. "The First Nations Art of Birch Bark Biting." Off the Wall Blog at, (31 Jul. 2009)
Canada Council. The Canada Council Art Bank Catalogue 1972-1992. Ottawa: Canada Council, 1992.
Department of Indian and Northern Affairs. Birch Bark Biting. 1975.
Guest, Graham. "Angelique Merasty: Birch Bark Biting a Dying Indian Art." Our Legacy University of Saskatchewan Library and Archives, 1981.
Hail, Barbara A. et al. Out of the North: The Subarctic Collection of the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology. Brown University Press, 1989.
Heller, Jules and Nancy. North American Women Artists of the Twentieth Century. New York: Garland, 1995.
Hewitt, Irene. "Angelique Merasty, Artist." Winnipeg Tribune (16 Apr. 1980).
Holmlund, Mona, et al. Inspiring Women: A Celebration of Herstory. Regina: Coteau Books, 2003.
King, Jonathan C.H. First People, First Contacts: Native Peoples of North America. California: British Museum Press, 1999.
Kizuk, Rick et al. Woman of the North. Winnipeg: Winnipeg Kizuk Productions Ltd, 1991.
Knowles, Valerie. "Betty Davison, Award-Winning Printmaker." Canadian Art Investor's Guide 1 (1981): 34-35, 41.
Lebrecht, Sue. "Angelique Merasty, Birch Bark Artist." Canadian Woman Studies 10.2/3 (Summer/Fall 1989): 65-68.
Lowery, Bob. "Artist's Plight Gnaws at McGonigal." Winnipeg Free Press (14 Feb. 1983).
Lowery, Bob. "Native Art Form Kept Alive." Winnipeg Free Press (3 Jun. 1980).
Martin, Lee-Ann. Wigwas: The Art of Birch Bark Biting. Regina, Saskatchewan: MacKenzie Art Gallery, 1999.
McLuhan, Elizabeth & Zoccole, M. Wigwas: Birch Biting by Angelique Merasty. 1983.
Moody, Harry. "Birch Bark Biting." The Beaver (Spring 1957): 9-11.
National Gallery of Canada. National Gallery of Canada Catalogue of Canadian Art. Ottawa: National Gallery of Canada, 1988.
Pottruff, Richard. Graphex 9. Brantford, Ontario: Art Gallery of Brant, (1984): 26.
Society for Art Publications. Arts Canada. Toronto: 30 (1973): 176-187.
Sproxton, Birk. Phantom Lake: North of 54. Edmonton, Alberta: University of Alberta Press, 2005.
Sturtevant, William C. Handbook of North American Indians, Volume 1. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, 1981.
Thunder Bay National Exhibition Centre. Wigwas: Bark Biting by Angelique Merasty, June 30- July 24, 1983 (Online). 1983.
Thunder Bay National Exhibition Centre. Wigwas: Bark Biting. Thunder Bay, Ontario: Thunder Bay National Exhibition Centre, 1983.
Tracy, William A. "Collecting Contemporary Native Arts in the Boreal Forest of Western Canada." Arctic Anthropology 28.1 (1991): 101-109.
Vancouver Art Gallery. Vanguard Vancouver: 14 (1985): 36.
Voyce, Geoff & National Indian Arts & Crafts Corp. Birch Bark Biting. B.T. Film-Sound, 1978.
Walker, Kathleen. "International Acclaim Given Davison." Ottawa Citizen (9 Sept. 1978).
Wolff, Hennie. Index of Ontario Artists. Toronto: Visual Arts of Ontario, Ontario Association of Art Galleries, 1978.

Writings by
Merasty, Angelique. Birch Biting. Regina, Saskatchewan: University of Regina Press, 1983.

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