In a stunning resurgence over the past few decades, contemporary First Nations artists of the Northwest Coast have established themselves as among the most dynamic and important artist working in North America. Challenging Traditions honours this success by presenting the work of 40 of the most celebrated living artists, whose achievements reveal an accomplished melding of contemporary vitality with traditional genres. The work of such acknowledged masters as Robert Davidson, Dempsey Bob, Susan Point, Preston Singletary, Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun, Jim Hart, and Richards Hunt, plus many younger artists, is presented in 100 colour photographs of primarily new pieces, amply demonstrating that the historic strengths of Northwest Coast culture are alive, well and continuously evolving.
For more than a century, the state and church actively discouraged First Nations from pursuing their traditional cultures, but they persisted in keeping alive their art and ceremony. With the rise of cultural and political activism, Native art is now flourishing on an unprecedented scale. Many artists are examining the meaning and purpose of First Nations art in the twentieth-century, while following traditions and boldly experimenting with innovative subjects, techniques and materials.
Ian Thom explores these contradictions by describing the career, working methods and philosophy of each artist, all of whom he interviewed especially for this book. He also discusses at least two significant recent artworks by each artist.
Both senior and younger artists from all of the major First Nations on the Northwest Coast are featured, working in a variety of media and styles: groundbreaking abstract painting and metal sculptures, painstakingly woven spruce root hats and ceremonial woollen robes, works in glass, masks, carved panels, painted drums, striking political paintings, “Haida manga,” jewelry, carved argillite works and bentwood boxes.
This book is beautiful, provocative introduction to the best contemporary First Nations art of the Northwest Coast, in the words and works of some of its leading lights.
Published in 2009
This visually sumptuous book features works of the historical and contemporary importance of Nuu Chah Nulth art and culture. It illustrates and documents the traveling exhibition of the same name curated by the Royal British Columbia Museum.
Huupukwanum and Tupaat are Nuu-chah-nulth words that designate everything a chief owns, including valued hereditary names and songs, objects and dances, rights and privileges, lands and resources.
These Nuu-chah-nulth concepts introduce non-aboriginal people to the profound philosophical, spiritual and personal connections that these objects had – and continue to have – with Nuu-chah-nulth communities.
Published in 1999
The totem pole is a distinctive and widely admired form of traditional Northwest Coast Native art. Once nearly lost, this art form is alive and thriving today. In this beautifully photographed book, Vickie Jensen collaborates with Norman Tait, a renowned Nisga’a artist, and his crew of young carvers to document the process of transforming a log into a totem pole.
Throughout the carving process, Tait requires the apprentices to make their own tools, design their regalia and practice traditional drumming, songs and dances. He teaches the young carvers that carving a pole requires more than time and labour, more than a firm understanding of the tools and techniques and more than artistic and emotional commitment. The process involves respecting and following tradition and becoming involved in their cultural background.
Published in 2003
Ten masterful, complex drawings by Bill reid are accompanied by ten episodes from Haida mythology told by Bill Reid and Robert Bringhurst. The result brings Haida art and mythology alive as never before.
Published in 1996
George MacDonald, Director of the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Ottawa, combines ethnohistory, archaeology and stunning photodocumentation to explain the physical and cultural structure of a Haida village. He shows how architecture and totem poles are an integral part of the social and religious aspects of Haida culture.
Published in 1994 by Douglas & MacIntyre
Coast Salish oral traditions, history and artistry from prehistory to the present is captured in this visually stunning book.
A principal at the heart of Salish culture is a reciprocal exchange of physical, spiritual and intangible gifts, including songs, spirit powers, titles, names, food, natural resources and artistic creations. The term for “gifts” in Lushootseed, a Coast Salish dialect, is S’abadeb and this book illuminates the concept by exploring the intersection of art with ceremony, oral traditions, the land, and contemporary realities.
Published in 2008
Aldona Jonaitis is the Director of the University of Alaska Museum of the North, and Professor of Anthropology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
An extensive overview of the First Nations art of the Northwest Coast with detailed illustrations and up-to-date maps. This single volume book covers the development of styles by region as well as the art’s meanings in the context of the region’s social history.
Published in 2006
A collection of 36 Tsimshian masterpieces from northern British Columbia, collected over 140 years ago.
Edited by Donald Ellis, with essays by Steven Clay Brown, Bill Holm, Alan L. Hoover, Sarah Milroy, and William White.
Tsimshian Treasures is an extraordinary collection of masterpieces from the Dundas collection that were acquired by Reverend Robert J. Dundas in October 1963 from Natives at Old Metlakatla. The images and essays in this book honour a remarkable moment in Canadian cultural history and the triumphant return of these masterworks of Northwest Coast art after more than a century in exile.
Published in 2007
This beautiful book marks the exciting emergence of Susan A. Point as a major artist on the Northwest Coast. Point’s striking and distinctive art in the Coast Salish tradition – from jewellery in precious metals to prints, paintings and monumental pieces in wood and glass – has won worldwide acclaim. Featuring 62 full-colour and 21 black and white images.
Published in 2000
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