Sonny Assu (Ligwilda’xw of the Kwakwaka’wakw Nations) has been recognized for his mashups of Indigenous iconography and popular culture. He addresses the ways in which traditions of the past have come to inform contemporary ideas and identities, particularly as related to the effects of colonization, and the loss of language and cultural resources in Indigenous culture. Through a variety of mediums, including museum interventions, large-scale installations, sculpture, and painting, Assu’s work maintains a profound connection to past traditions. His practice emphasizes the complex conversation relating to the intersections and boundaries of traditional Indigenous art within the larger realm of contemporary art practices.
Dempsey Bob is a master carver from Telegraph Creek, British Columbia. He began carving in 1969 and was directed to the Gitanmaax School of Northwest Coast Indian Art in 1972 by Freda Diesing, who was his earliest mentor and teacher. His bronze and wooden sculptures blend traditional narratives and iconography with contemporary influences. Bob’s exposure to oral histories, songs, and dances from a young age has contributed to his understanding of art and its purpose within a community. Equal parts traditionalist and vanguard, Bob’s animated sculptures acknowledge the lineage to which they are indebted, but refuse to be nostalgic, instead welcoming newly realized characters and iconography from the age-old stories of his people.
Bobbie Burgers is interested in the process of decay, transformation, and metamorphosis in nature. With a distinct style that merges abstraction with representation in increasing degrees, her work brings together instinctive compositions while revealing her precise powers of observation. Remarkable for their compositional rhythms, bold coloration, and sweeping gestural brushstrokes, Burgers’ paintings bring alive the fundamental quest to express something personal, subjective and emotive, in a poetic, abstract way.
Kim Dorland’s practice reflects a fascination with the enigmatic Canadian landscape as it comes into contact with contemporary urban experience. The psychological atmosphere represented by Dorland is confrontational and hallucinatory, disrupting conventional ideas that the natural world is a place of solace and contemplation. Using a dense matrix of intense colours, delirious textures, and passionate painterly touch, Dorland brings a paradoxical sense of displacement in which the artist’s relationship with nature is simultaneously one of awe and fear. In parallel with this, fragments of contemporary urban life materialize themselves in the form of ghostly figures and graffiti remnants. It is through these dueling representations of the landscape that Kim Dorland has created a body of work endowed with an emotional charge whose potential far exceeds the formal confines of the canvas.
Marten Elder’s photographs offer a reconsideration of the way that images are captured in light of digital and technological developments. Through careful interpretation of the raw data, Elder produces photographs that disrupt spatial hierarchy and that are intensely vibrant in their tonal range. The colours may seem synthetic at first, but they all exist in the world in the same relative relationship to one another, and it is this representation of the world that is of great interest to Elder.
Gathie Falk’s practice meticulously transforms objects of everyday experience into extraordinary things. Working in a variety of media that includes performance art, sculpture, ceramics, painting and drawing, Falk has produced works that feel surreal and dreamlike, reinventing clothing, fruit, plants, shoes, or baseball caps into objects of much greater significance. Although these objects are relatable in their familiarity, it is the personal symbols they carry – not the universal – that are of interest to Falk. Her practice has been aligned with the traditions of Surrealism, Funk, Fluxus, and Pop Art, but the influences are rarely direct. Indeed, Falk is most comfortable when poised on the edge of contradictions.
Adad Hannah explores historically trenchant themes through elaborate bodies of work that include installation, video, and photography. Inspired by the historical practice of tableaux vivants (translated as “living pictures”), Hannah’s overall practice invokes the durational form of early cinema, while also making reference to early photography by mimicking paintings at a time when it was the very goal of photography to do so. Time occupies a prominent place in Hannah’s production, forged by a lasting interest in temporality and its complex relationship with photography and video. Hannah adds to this history by bridging, or blurring, the divide between the tableau in photography and its originating form as living, i.e., live picture.
Fred Herzog was born in Germany in 1930, and immigrated to Vancouver, BC in 1953. Throughout his career he worked almost exclusively with Kodachrome slide film, and only in the past decade did technology allow him to make archival pigment prints that match the exceptional colour and intensity of the Kodachrome slide. Herzog’s use of colour was unusual in the 1950s and 60s, a time when art photography was almost exclusively associated with black and white imagery. In this respect, his photographs can be seen as a pre-figuration of the “New Colour” photographers of the 1970s.
Shawn Hunt is a Heiltsuk artist born inWaglisla (Bella Bella), British Columbia.Hunt’s practice is directly informed by his Scottish, French and First Nations background and the visual culture and traditions that accompany it.He works with the traditional Northwest Coast design principle, known as formline, to create abstract, surreal, and sculptural artworks based on ancestral Heiltsuk Cosmology that often reference contemporary aboriginal life.Hunt is always seeking to push the boundaries of the art form, often combining non-traditional ideas with innovative uses of materials and motifs in his work.
For over thirty years, Geoffrey James has been investigating Western society through two opposing themes: the ideal spaces – formal gardens and sylvan parks, and the sites that record the impact of culture on nature- the wastelands of mining sites, and the economic systems of a problematic international border. James’s photographs reverberate with a sense of history yet are solidly rooted in the present. His ability to locate human aspirations within built environments, coupled with a keen sense of pictorial structure, have allowed him to discover poetry and irony in both the planned landscapes from the past and in the visual complexities of our contemporary urban environments.