The central focus of "It’s Good for Your Heart" work is a Native Elder gathering medicines, an activity steeped in traditional environmental knowledge and undertaken with the greatest care and respect for the plants being gathered. The work also has broader reference to the ancient notion of the ‘doctrine of signatures’ which suggests that the appearance of a plant or substance contains clues to its healing powers. In the case of foxglove (Digitalis purpurea), the prominent ridges on the petals of the flower resemble blood vessels. (Exhibit Text by Virginia Eichhorn)


  • Title: It’s Good for Your Heart
  • Creator: Jane Ash Poitras
  • Date: 2003
  • Physical Dimensions: w122.3 x h112 cm
  • Provenance: This acquisition was made possible with the generous support of the Louise Hawley Stone Charitable Trust Fund.
  • Type: Mixed media installation
  • Rights: Royal Ontario Museum
  • Medium: Mixed media
  • Measurement Depth: 4
  • Artist Biography: As one of Canada’s preeminent artists, Jane Ash Poitras is best known for her expressive mixed-media assemblages. Her works have explored the impact of colonialism, both past and present, as well as the political and spiritual strength of the Indigenous peoples of the Americas through juxtaposition of personal and historic imagery. Poitras is an erudite and scholarly woman having attained Bachelor Degrees in Science and Fine Arts, a Masters of Fine Arts, and two years of study in Pharmacology. These academic studies are rounded out through other equally important experiences. She meets regularly with Elders from many native communities to hear their stories and to learn from them. She travels often, allowing her to observe and partake in the rituals of various native cultures. By doing so, she brings a very humanist approach to her work. She isn’t just trying to give information – rather her work is about sharing knowledge. These paintings represent part of the artist’s ongoing investigation of traditional non-Western medicines and the ‘secrets’ of plants. These works incorporate knowledge that is taught and knowledge that is revealed, in combination with a powerful artistic vision.
  • Accession Number: 2008.114.3

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