International Women’s Day – March 8th

Today, on March 8th, International Women’s Day is being celebrated and we’re honouring Kwakwaka’wakw / Tlingit artist Corrine Hunt. Her solo exhibition Resilience: through laughter opens on Saturday, March 16th at the gallery.

As one of a few female First Nations carvers, contemporary artist Corrine Hunt carries on the traditions of her great-great grandfather who is world-renowned Kwakwaka’wakw artist George Hunt (1854-1933).

Although men were primarily tasked with carving, women were involved and eventually became more widely recognized for working in cedar wood.  In the 20th century, the first female totem pole carver was Ellen Neel, Kwakwaka’wakw (1916-1966) and other influential women, such as Freda Diesing, Haida (1925-2002), paved the way for more female artists to carve and express their cultural heritage.

For many generations, First Nations groups lived within a matrilineal hereditary system whereby wealth, power and inheritance were passed down through the mother. Women were respected for their mental and spiritual strengths, and given leadership roles. Motherhood was honoured and, as child bearers, women were given power to carry out those responsibilities.  There was a balance between both women and men, and each were given their own tasks.  Gender roles were considered complementary and not ranked hierarchically in their culture.

In celebrating International Women’s Day, we pay tribute to both the artists of yesterday and today!

For more details and a video interview with Corrine Hunt on her upcoming solo exhibition Resilience click here.