The Box of Treasures: Gifts from the Supernatural
March 4 to September 27, 2015
Opening Celebration. Photo: Marina Dodis
A collection of sacred masks and regalia revealing beings from the forest, sea, and supernatural realm. Created for Kwakwaka'wakw Potlatches by artist and traditional Chief Beau Dick, Gigame Walis Gyiyam
(Gray whale) and other master carvers.
The Potlatch, an integral part of the oral culture was declared illegal in 1884 by the Indian Act and was banned until 1951. Participants in Potlatches during this time period could be arrested, convicted, and imprisoned for two to six months.
The resilience of the Potlatch speaks to its enduring cultural power. Today the Kwakwaka'wakw celebrate and practice their culture openly without fear of arrest, celebrating their timeless knowledge of what it means to be part of humanity, and the gifts and responsibilities that awareness creates. This exhibition honours the skilled carvers that continue to contribute to the Kwakwaka'wakw Potlatches today.
Godanxee'wat: Stone Ribs
January 12 to September 27, 2015
Gwaai Edensahw: Godanxee'wat: Stone Ribs, 2014. Photo: David Ball
January 12 to July 5, 2015, the Bill Reid Gallery will feature Godanxee'wat: Stone Ribs, created by Haida artist, Gwaai Edenshaw. This eight and a half foot pole, originally carved in Yellow-cedar, is an edition of seven bronze totem poles that were made in a multi-stage, labour intensive process. The final colour of the patina was chosen to reflect the famous polished black argillite carvings, exclusive to the Haida.
Edenshaw combines his understanding of Haida culture, Haida oral history and sculpture to interpret Godanxee'wat: Stone Ribs, a celebrated supernatural being and ancestor to the Haida people.
Godanxee'wat: Stone Ribs also has a contemporary story that has been an inspiring component to the world renowned Haida Gwaii Rediscovery Youth Program, which started in 1977. The Rediscovery program brings youth together to learn cultural knowledge, and connect with the land and sea. They participate in two week long camps, where they leave the trappings of electricity, and modernity behind and learn cultural knowledge, survival skills, respect for one another and the world around them. At the end of each session, one youth participant is awarded and ceremonially honored the title, Stone Ribs. Those who have earned it, carry the name with pride. It has come represent self-discovery, courage and selflessness. Rediscovery has since been adapted around the world, to connect youth to their own power and to the natural world around them.
Edenshaw brings together his personal experience with Haida Gwaii Rediscovery, Haida Oral History, and classical Haida carving expression to present this beautiful continuum of story telling through Godanxee'wat: Stone Ribs.
Gwaai Edenshaw's first mentor at the age of 16, was Bill Reid. His artistic career spanning 20 years plus, he has grown, and works in a variety of different media and with other senior artists and collaborators.