Gerry Biron’s career as a fine artist spans almost five decades and during that time, he’s exhibited his work in hundreds of shows nationwide and won numerous “First Place” and “Best of Show” awards for his portraits of Native people. His interest in the Indians of the Northeast stems in part from his ancestry. His matrilineal grandmother, Clarissa Basque, was a Mi’kmaq from Nova Scotia. Though she died before he was born, her influence on his life has been profound, and it continues to shape and direct the nature of his work.
During his adolescent years, Gerry’s interest in art was spurred by his uncle, Lorenzo deNevers, a successful portrait and landscape painter who studied at L’Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, at the turn of the twentieth century. Gerry apprenticed with him for several years and it was from him that he developed his love for portraiture. “He instilled in me the importance of striving for technical excellence in the execution of my work, the awareness that it be inspired by spirit and ‘if you were lucky,’ he said, it would move the viewer to respond emotionally.”
Following a four-year tour of duty in the military, Gerry earned a degree in fine arts and continued his studies in portraiture in the studio of Robert Ducharme. After working for a year as a commercial artist, Gerry returned to school and attained a degree in electronics which led to a successful 10-year career designing information systems in the emerging field of fiber optic communications.
He left the corporate world in the early 1980s and moved to Vermont, where he could devote himself full time to his artwork and a critical examination of the exquisite beadwork that was created by the Indian Nations from the Northeast.
Gerry has been researching Northeast Woodland beaded bags since the mid-1980s. He’s spent many years studying both private and institutional collections in the United States and Canada, is well versed in the literature on the topic, familiar with the range and variety of documented examples of these artifacts, and has a strong understanding of the major beadwork styles produced during the nineteenth century by indigenous people from New York to the Canadian Maritime Provinces.
He’s collected this work for over twenty-five years and spent ten years developing a series of portraits of people from the tribes who created it. From the spring of 2006 until the summer of 2009, his work and collection of beadwork was on tour as the Made of Thunder, Made of Glass: American Indian Beadwork of the Northeast exhibit.
Gerry is a frequent lecturer on the topic of Northeast Woodland beadwork through the New Hampshire Humanities Council.
He authored and produced the exhibit catalog for the Made of Thunder, Made of Glass: American Indian Beadwork of the Northeast exhibit, in 2006 and his artwork combines his passion for history, art and the historic beadwork produced by the tribes from the Northeast.
Gerry has also written two feature articles about historic Northeast Woodland beaded bags:
A Cherished Curiosity: The Niagara Floral-style Beaded Bag in the Victorian Era
In: American Indian Art Magazine – Fall, 2010
Made of Thunder, Made of Glass: Niagara Falls and its Influence on the Production of American Indian Beadwork in the Northeast.