Books

ENRICH your MIND through our selection of best reads on Indigenous art and culture.

  • Mischief Making: Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas, Art and the Seriousness of Play

    Nicola Levell

    CA$29.95

    In a gorgeously illustrated exploration of the art of Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas, Mischief Making disproves any notion that play is frivolous. Deploying mischievous tactics, Yahgulanaas shines a spotlight on serious topics. As he investigates Indigenous and other worldviews, the politics of land, cultural heritage, and global ecology, his distinctive style stretches, twists, and flips the framelines of classic Haida art to create imagery that resonates with the graphic vitality of Asian manga. This engaging and beautiful book delineates the philosophical underpinnings and evolution of the artist’s visual practice, revealing his deep understanding of the seriousness of play.

    Softcover
    Published 2021

  • Where the Power Is: Indigenous Perspectives on Northwest Coast Art

    Karen Duffek, Bill McLennan, & Jordan Wilson

    CA$65.00

    In collaboration with the Museum of Anthropology, University of British Columbia.

    Where the Power Is: Indigenous Perspectives on Northwest Coast Art is a landmark volume that brings together over eighty contemporary Indigenous knowledge holders with extraordinary works of historical Northwest Coast art, ranging from ancient stone tools to woven baskets to carved masks and poles to silver jewellery. First Nations Elders, artists, scholars, and other community members visited the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia to connect with these objects, learn from the hands of their ancestors, and share their thoughts and insights on how these belongings transcend the category of “art” or “artifact” to embody vital ways of knowing and being in the world. Texts by the authors sketch the provenance of the objects, and, in dialogue with the commentators, engage in critical and necessary conversations around the role of museums that hold such collections.

    The voices within are passionate, enlightening, challenging, and humorous. The commentators speak to their personal and family histories that these objects evoke, the connections between tangible and intangible culture, and how this “art” remains part of Northwest Coast Indigenous peoples’ ongoing relationships to their territories and political governance. Accompanied by over 300 contemporary and historical photographs, this is a vivid and powerful document of Indigenous experiences of reconnection, reclamation, and return.

    Hardcover

    Published in October 2021

  • Totem Pole Carving: Bringing a Pole to Life [Second Edition]

    Vickie Jensen

    CA$45.00

    In 1985, photographer and writer Vickie Jensen spent three months with Nisga’a artist Norman Tait and his crew of young carvers as they transformed a raw cedar log into a forty-two-foot totem pole for the BC Native Education Centre. Having spent years recovering the traditional knowledge that informed his carving, Tait taught his crew to make their own tools, carve, and design regalia, and together they practiced traditional stories and songs for the pole-raising ceremony.

    Totem Pole Carving shares two equally rich stories: the step-by-step work of carving and the triumph of Tait teaching his crew the skills and traditions necessary to create a massive cultural artifact. Jensen captures the atmosphere of the carving shed — the conversations and problem-solving, the smell of fresh cedar chips, the adzes and chainsaws, the blistered hands, the tension-relieving humor, the ever-present awareness of tradition, and the joy of creation. Generously illustrated with more than 130 striking photographs, and originally published as Where the People Gather, this second edition features a new preface from Jensen and an updated, lifetime-spanning survey of Tait’s  major works.

    Published in 2020

    Softcover

  • In the Spirit of the Ancestors: Contemporary Northwest Coast Art at the Burke Museum

    Robin K. Wright & Kathryn Bunn-Marcuse

    CA$52.50

    In the Spirit of the Ancestors celebrates the vitality of contemporary Pacific Northwest Coast art by showcasing a selection of objects from the Burke Museum’s collection of more than 2,400 late-twentieth- and early-twenty-first-century Native American works.

    Essays focus on contemporary art while exploring the important historical precedents on which so many artists rely for training and inspiration. Margaret Blackman reflects on building one of the largest collections of Northwest Coast serigraphs, and Joe David reminisces about his artistic journey through mask-making. Shaun Peterson, Lisa Telford, and Evelyn Vanderhoop discuss the historical precedents for working in styles that were kept alive only by a few critical artists and are now making a comeback. Robin K. Wright explores the history of box drums and their revival. Emily Moore discusses the repatriation of two stolen house posts and proposes a new concept of “propatriation” to describe the resulting commissioning of contemporary posts to take their place. Kathryn Bunn-Marcuse explores the power of adornment and how clothing, jewelry, and personal adornments like tattooing express tribal and personal identity in ways both connected to the past and grounded in the present.

    The diversity of approaches presented by these contributors speaks to artists, collectors, academics, tribal communities, and all those interested in Pacific Northwest Coast art. Splendid color photographs of works never before published will delight everyone.

    Soft cover

  • Carpe Fin: A Haida Manga

    Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas

    CA$29.95

    Hardcover
    2019

    In a prequel to the award-winning Red: A Haida Manga, acclaimed artist Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas blends Asian manhwa/manga with the Haida artistic and oral tradition in another stunning hand-painted volume.

    In a small near-future community perched between the ocean and the northern temperate rainforest, a series of disasters is taking a heavy toll. It is early fall and a fuel spill has contaminated the marine foods the village was preparing to harvest. As food supplies dwindle, a small group decides to make a late season expedition to search for sealions. Surprised by a ferocious storm, they abandon one man, Carpe, on an isolated rock at sea. After ten days they are finally bale to return, but he has vanished. The story follows Carpe’s encounters with the Lord of the Rock, who demands retribution for Carpe’s role in the hunt, and Carpe’s fate in the half-life between human and animal, life and death.

  • The Way Home: David Neel

    David Neel

    CA$32.95

    David Neel was an infant when his father, a traditional Kwakiutl artist, returned to the ancestors, triggering a series of events that would separate David from his homeland and its rich cultural traditions for twenty-five years. When he saw a potlatch mask carved by his great-great-grandfather in a museum in Fort Worth, Texas, the encounter inspired the young photographer to rekindle a childhood dream to follow in the footsteps of his father.

    Drawing on memories, legends, and his own art and portrait photography, David Neel recounts his struggle to reconnect with his culture after decades of separation and a childhood marred by trauma and abuse.  He returned to the Pacific Coast in 1987, where he apprenticed with master carvers from his father’s village. The art of his ancestors and the teaching of the people he met helped to make up for the last years and fuelled his creativity.  His career as a multi-media artist also gave him the opportunity to meet and photograph leading artists, knowledgeable elders, and prominent people from around the world.  In time he was a recognized artists, with his artwork presented in more than forty solo and sixty group exhibitions.

    The Way Home is an uplifting tale that affirms the healing power of returning home.  It is also a testament to the strength of the human spirit to overcome great obstacles, and to the power and endurance of Indigenous culture and art.

    Softcover

  • People Among the People: The Public Art of Susan Point

    Robert D. Watt

    CA$50.00

    Susan Point’s unique artworks have been credited with almost single-handedly reviving the traditional Coast Salish art style. Once nearly lost to the effect of colonization, the crescents, wedges, and human and animal forms characteristic of traditional Coast Salish art can now been seen around the world – reinvigorated with modern materials and techniques – in her serigraphs and public art installations, as well as the works of a new generation of artists that she’s inspired.

    While the images and symbolism of Point’s work are often informed by surviving traditional Salish works and the Traditional Knowledge of her Musqueam family and Elders, she has developed a unique and contemporary style that continues to evolve.

    People Among People beautifully displays the breadth and depth of her public art, from cast bronze faces in Whistler to massive carved cedar portals in Stanley Park to moulded polymer murals in Seattle.

    Through interviews and archival access, Robert D. Watt gathers the story of each piece, often in Point’s own words, to illustrate the vital role she has played in revealing the re-establishing the “Salish footprint” in the Pacific Northwest.  An artist’s statement by Point and an essay by Dr. Michael Kew complete this portrait of a profoundly moving collection of artworks.

    Hardcover

  • Discovering Totem Poles: A Traveller’s Guide

    Aldona Jonaitis

    CA$21.95

    An indispensable guide for identifying totem poles along British Columbia’s inside passage from Vancouver to Alaska.

    Whether rising from a forest mist or soaring overhead in parks and museums, magnificent cedar totem poles have captivated the attention and imagination of visitors to Washington State, British Columbia, and Alaska.

    Discovering Totem Poles is the first guidebook to focus on the complex and fascinating histories of the specific poles visitors encounter in Seattle, Victoria, Vancouver, Alert Bay, Prince Rupert, Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands), Ketchikan, Sitka, and Juneau. It debunks common misconceptions about totem poles and explores the stories behind the making and displaying of 90 different poles.

    Travelers with this guide in their pocket will return home with a deeper knowledge about these monumental carvings, their place in history and the people who made them.

    Published in 2012

    Paperback

  • Red: A Haida Manga

    Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas

    CA$19.95

    An innovative graphic novel, Red is the epic tale of a Haida hero, his rage and his quest for retribution.

    Referencing a classic Haida oral narrative, this stunning full-colour graphic novel documents the powerful story of Red, a leader so blinded by revenge that he leads his community to the brink of war and destruction.

    Set in the islands off the northwest coast of B.C., it tells the tale of orphan Red and his sister, Jaada. When raiders attack their village, Red, still a boy, escapes dramatically. But Jaada is whisked away. The loss of Jaada breeds a seething anger, and Red sets out to find his sister and exact revenge on her captors.

    Red blends traditional Haida imagery into a Japanese manga-styled story. Tragic and timeless, it is reminiscent of such classic stories as Oedipus Rex, Macbeth and King Lear.

    This innovation in contemporary storytelling consists of 108 pages of hand-painted illustrations. When arranged in a specific order, the panels of the narrative create a Haida formline image four metres long. The sequence for this complex design is displayed on the inside jacket.

    Published in 2009

    Paperback

  • Ḱesu’: The Art & Life of Doug Cranmer

    Jennifer Kramer

    CA$29.95

    Northwest Coast Kwakwaka’wakw art is renowned for its flamboyant, energetic, and colorful carving and painting. Among the best-known practitioners was Doug Cranmer, whose style was understated, elegant, fresh, and unique and whose work quickly found an international following in the 1960s. Named K’esu’, or Wealth Being Carved, as a child, he was an early player in the global, commercial art market and one of the first Native artists in British Columbia to own his own gallery. A long-time teacher, he inspired generations of young Native artists in Alert Bay and beyond.

    This beautifully illustrated book is a record of the art, life, and influence of a man who called himself a “whittler” or “doodler” but who embodied “indigenous modern” well before the term had been coined. He pioneered abstract and non-figurative paintings using Northwest Coast ovoids and U-shapes; embraced the practice of silk-screening on wood, paper, and burlap; and adapted power tools to new applications in art. Skillfully weaving recollections from his friends and family, facts about his life and examples of his stunning artwork, K’esu’ is a wide-ranging celebration of Doug Cranmer and his profound influence on Kwakwaka’wakw art.

    Published in 2012

    Paperback

  • First Peoples of Canada: Masterworks from the Canadian Museum of Civilization

    Jean-Luc Pilon & Nicholette Prince

    CA$52.00

    First Peoples of Canada offers readers a rare opportunity to experience a celebrated exhibition that has toured the world, yet has never been shown in Canada. This beautifully designed, full-colour book presents a collection of 150 archaeological and ethnographic objects produced by Canada’s First Peoples – including some that are roughly 12,000 years old – that represent spectacular expressions of creativity and ingenuity.

    Curators Jean-Luc Pilon and Nicholette Prince sought out pieces held by the Canadian Museum of Civilization that could be considered “masterworks” based on their aesthetic qualities, symbolic value, or the skills and raw materials used in manufacturing them. These unique and priceless artifacts embody the rich diversity of skills and materials used by Canadian Inuit, First Nations, and Métis in both ancient and modern times.

    First Peoples of Canada is full of insights not only on the pieces themselves but also on the cultures that produced them and the geography of this vast land. Readers will come away from this book with a renewed appreciation of the lifestyles and achievements of Canada’s original inhabitants.

    This collection focuses on items made by people in four regions across Canada: the farmers of the Great Lakes, the hunters, and warriors of the Great Plains, the wealthy Salmon People of coastal British Columbia, and the people of Canada’s harshest environments, the Arctic and Boreal Forest.

    Published in 2013

    Paperback

  • Sonny Assu: A Selective History

    Sonny Assu

    CA$34.95

    with Candice Hopkins, Marianne Nicholson, Richard Van Camp, and Ellyn Walker

    A stunning retrospective highlighting the playfulness, power, and subversive spirit of Northwest Coast Indigenous artist Sonny Assu.

    Through large-scale installation, sculpture, photography, printmaking, and painting, Sonny Assu merges the aesthetics of Indigenous iconography with a pop-art sensibility. This stunning retrospective spans over a decade of Assu’s career, highlighting more than 120 full-colour works, including several never-before-exhibited pieces.

    Through analytical essays and personal narratives, Richard Van Camp, Marianne Nicolson, Candice Hopkins, and Ellyn Walker provide brilliant commentary on Assu’s practice, its meaning in the context of contemporary art, and its wider significance in the struggle for Indigenous cultural and political autonomy. Exploring themes of Indigenous rights, consumerism, branding, humour, and the ways in which history informs contemporary ideas and identities, Sonny Assu: A Selective History is the first major full-scale book to pay tribute to this important, prolific, and vibrant figure in the Canadian contemporary art world.

     

    Softcover

  • Bill Reid Collected

    Martine J. Reid

    CA$19.95

    Over his lifetime, Bill Reid (1920 – 1998) created many historic sculptures, paintings jewellery pieces and serigraphs inspired by his Haida heritage. The large bronze sculpture The Spirit of Haida Gwaii, nicknamed The Jade Canoe and displayed at the Vancouver International Airport, and The Raven and the First Men, a yellow cedar carving, have both been featured on the Canadian $20 bill. In addition to the immense praise he received for his artwork, Reid was also the recipient of the National Aboriginal Achievement Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1994. This volume showcases more than 150 of Reid’s most significant works in beautiful photographs.

    Softcover

  • Olaka iku Da Nana – It’s a Good Day Book

    Corrine Hunt

    CA$20.00

    “This book tells my story behind the [2010 Olympic] medals – the peace symbol, the soul replaced by the hand, ayasu, “stop hey what’s that sign,” my childhood hippyness all groovy with happiness, a journey to far out places doing things I have never done before like co-designing an Olympic Medal.

    The story is about community, the random nature of connections, the chance meetings, and the simple idea that we need each other to thrive, much like my community which continually supports me in my random acts of madness, kindness or both.” – Corrine Hunt

    Published in 2012

    Hardcover

     

     

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