Working with a soft black stone known as Argillite, Haida sculptors over a period of two centuries have created a stunning body of work that is exceptional in its craftsmanship and beauty.
Haida argillite sculpture constitutes one of the longest creative traditions in Canadian art. What is not always recognized is that this art form also serves as a rich portrayal of Haida history. Following the initial Euro-American contact, the Haida experienced devastating losses of population and the virtual disappearance of their culture. Argillite sculpture became almost the only means for the Haida to preserve their sense of who they were as a people. Their art became postcards to the universe explaining a heritage threatened with extinction.
Now, a renaissance of Northwest Coast art is taking place. New artists, combining outstanding skill with an awareness of artistic developments on a global scale, are creating work of impressive quality and sophistication. Through their art, stories and fundamentals of an ancient Haida culture gain meaning and vitality for a contemporary audience.
Published in 2008
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