Adrian Stimson was born in 1964 in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. He is a member of the Siksika Nation (Blackfoot Reserve, Alberta), and was raised there. He served as tribal councillor for eight years in the 1990s, leaving to pursue art in 1999. Stimson studied at the Alberta College of Art and Design in Calgary, Alberta, receiving his Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2003. He has since completed a Master of Fine Arts at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon.
Stimson uses a variety of media in his art that incorporate themes of history, gender, and identity. His Buffalo Boy performances use satire to critique stereotypes about Aboriginal people, his installation Old Sun explores the legacy of the residential school system, while his Transformation exhibit of paintings examines the subject of missing Aboriginal women. His work has been exhibited throughout Canada, and he is particularly known for his “tar and feather” series.
Bison often appear in Stimson's work: “I use the bison as a symbol representing the destruction of the Aboriginal way of life, but it also represents survival and cultural regeneration. The bison is central to Blackfoot being. And the bison as both icon and food source, as well as the whole history of its disappearance, is very much a part of my contemporary life” (Canadian Art Magazine, 2007). Stimson has received honours and awards including the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal (2003), the Alberta Centennial Medal (2005), and the Blackfoot Visual Arts Award (2009). In 2006, Stimson served as artist-in-residence at the Mendel Art Gallery (Saskatoon).
In 2008, Stimson was featured in an episode of the documentary series Landscape As Muse. In 2010, he was selected to travel to Afghanistan as part of the Canadian Forces Artists program.
In 2018 Stimson became a recipient of a Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts.