Carl Ray (January 10, 1943 – September 26, 1978) was a First Nations artist who was active on the Canadian art scene from 1969 until his death in 1978. Considered primarily a Woodlands Style artist, he also painted European style wildlife and landscapes. He was a founding member of the Indian Group of Seven. He began painting when he was 30 years old.
Self-taught artist Carl Ray was born on January 10, 1943 on the Sandy Lake First Nation reserve in northern Ontario, Canada and was known in his Cree community as Tall Straight Poplar (he was 6'4" tall).
He apprenticed under Norval Morrisseau (who had already achieved national and international acclaim) and worked on the mural for the Indians of Canada Pavilion of Expo ’67 in Montreal. Norval had designed and sketched the mural but it was Carl who did most of the work and was left to finish it.
By 1975, the Indian Group of Seven had formed and Ray was enjoying acclaim and purchases by notable collectors such as Dr. Peter Lewin and Dr. Bernard Cinader, as well as public institutions such as the McMichael Canadian Art Collection. He also illustrated the cover of “The White City” published by Tom Marshall in 1976.
Carl Ray was murdered, stabbed to death, as a result of a drunken brawl over money in Sioux Lookout in 1978. He was only 35 years old.
“Three Birds” was the last painting produced by famous first nations artist Carl Ray before he died in 1978.