Haida artist Charles Edenshaw (1839-1920), who worked in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, was an exceptional carver of wood, silver and argillite. The Northwest Coast artist combined traditional Haida design with his own unique and elegant personal style. Vancouver Art Gallery's exhibition, Charles Edenshaw, opens on October 26, 2013 and marks the first major survey of Edenshaw's work. It features more than 200 pieces in all media, from public and private collections around the world. The exhibition runs through February 2, 2014.
It's the largest number of Edenshaw works ever assembled, and Haida Chief and exhibition advisor James Hart says the art is a testament to Edenshaw's individual spirit and singular talent. "All the pieces that Charles created carry the respect of his people, ancestors and his family," said Hart. "To be connected to this line of important Haida cultural prerogatives and the changing ways of our future, we must carry on, in the Haida Way." Charles Edenshaw is organized around five central themes: Haida Traditions, Narrative, Style, New Forms and Legacies.
The Vancouver Art Gallery has a long history of presenting First Nations Art. Since featuring BC Coast Indian Art in 1941, the Gallery continues to present both contemporary and historic Northwest Coast art in such landmark group exhibitions as People of the Potlatch (1956), Arts of the Raven (1967), Down from the Shimmering Sky: Masks of the Northwest Coast (1998), Raven Travelling: Two Centuries of Haida Art (2006) and Beat Nation: Art, Hip Hop and Aboriginal Culture (2012). VAG has also presented solo exhibition of artists Bill Reid, Robert Davidson, Marianne Nicolson and James Hart.
Charles Edenshaw was organized by the Vancouver Art Gallery and curated by Robin K. Wright, Director of the Bill Holm Center for the Study of Northwest Coast Art and Daina Augaitis, Chief Curator/Associate Director. Haida advisors included James Hart and Robert Davidson.
(Middle) Charles Edenshaw (attr.) Eagle Cane, late 19th century, wood, ivory, abalone shell, silver, 91.7 x 9x4 cm. Collection of Museum of Anthropology, University of British Columbia
(Right) Sea Bear Bracelet, late 19th century, silver, McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Purchase 1974, 1981.108.1 Photo: Trevor Mills, Vancouver Art Gallery